When I first started really examining my assessment practices, I'd often read a practice or strategy and think, "I'm already doing that," and just skip ahead. Turns out, I wasn't already doing that. I was doing something only nominally related to what I should have been doing. This series is dedicated to the former me that felt like I was "already doing that."
Advice: You need to teach the standards.
Me: I'm already doing that.
Begin brief interjection
Ok....I understand the anti-standards argument. Trust me. I get it. However, at least in my district and I'm assuming in my state, teaching the standards is your job. It's not optional. You can't just choose to ignore them. How you want to teach them is up to you (within reason). But if your kids aren't learning the standards, you're not doing your job.
It turns out I wasn't already doing that. I'm a science teacher. Science teachers are probably more guilty than other teachers of being a little.....off. We like to blow stuff up. We like to see stuff blow up. We like it when things sparkle and flame and glow and give off terrible odors. We really love when our experiments are loud enough to bother other classes. If we set off a fire alarm, we're secretly proud of ourselves.
I thought I was teaching the standards. I wasn't.
What I was doing was gathering a long series of really, really fun experiments and demos. Afterwards, I'd fit them to my standards. Build a bridge? Umm...forces! Trebuchet? That involves velocity. Gummi bear sacrifice? I think that has to do with...the periodic table....somehow.
I wasn't teaching the standards. I was fitting them in where they were convenient.
Sounds fun right? It was. But this way is also inherently lazy. Turns out if I started with the standards, I could still find the fun stuff and satisfy my inner pyro. Sometimes it just took me longer to find or develop something for that specific standard.
I also had a ton of fat in my curriculum. I had to squish in the stuff I was supposed to teach around the stuff I wanted to teach. I was always behind.
Now? I'm like a laser. Do I occasionally take a little wander to satisfy my inner pyro? Sure. But I've cut enough fat I'm not sacrificing what I'm supposed to be teaching. I also don't delude myself into thinking that building a blinking LED circuit is anywhere on the California 8th grade science standards.
Next time you feel yourself reading a book or at a training and you catch yourself thinking, "I'm already doing that," instead of shutting down, take a second and try to figure out if you really are actually doing that.