Make School Different: Five Things to Stop Pretending


Thanks to Louise for laying down this challenge for me, and thanks to my sister Beth; I read her '5' (my first) just last night.

When it comes to education...

1. ...we have to stop pretending that it is OK to avoid uncomfortable discussions about improving assessment practices. Yes, these conversations can be tension-filled. They will certainly challenge some firmly-held beliefs. Embrace the awkwardness. Relish the confusion. Accept that there is room for improvement.

2. ...we have to stop pretending that preparing students for standardized tests should ever take priority over student learning and well-being. As classroom teachers our job is to mentor, nurture, and inspire our students. Supporting their learning and well-being cannot take a back seat to test prep. Ever.

3. ...we have to stop pretending that students don't have a role to play in driving innovation in education. They are probably more open-minded about solutions than we are. At the very least, they will give us valuable feedback on how we're doing. At most, they should be at the heart of figuring out how to #makeschooldifferent.

4. ...we have to stop pretending that it is OK for teachers to wait for quality PD to be delivered in a tidy package. There are no excuses anymore. Stay after work and learn with your team. (That's right. I said it.) Get onto Twitter. Order a book from Amazon. Watch some TED talks. Attend a conference. Just do it!

5. ...we have to stop pretending that mastery of content knowledge is 'good enough' for teachers or students. Teachers who master content knowledge don't necessarily embrace good pedagogy. Students who master content knowledge don't necessarily have the skills they need to succeed as productive citizens. Time to level up.

It all started with Scott McLeod... Thanks, Scott!

I welcome your thoughts on my five. 

I would like to challenge @VP_Wilkinson, @HTheismeijer, @pcroteauirt, @LongthorneJess and @A_J_Golding to share theirs. 

Blog them, tweet them out one at a time...whatever works for you. Most importantly, pass it on!



  1. #4: Yes! Quit waiting for others to help you improve your practice in more than nominal ways! We are afraid of how powerful we might be...

    #3: Always at the conversations about students that never involve students... [sigh]

    Thanks for participating, Amy!

    1. Thank you for your comments, Scott.
      I have asked some of my colleagues to try and collect student voice around this question. I have one reply so far...can't wait to get a few more. I really wish I had my own students right now so I could dig deep. :) I like that the prompt encourages people to share things that might be considered more controversial; challenges are a safe way to help start some rich conversation.

  2. Hi Amy!

    Here are my no particular order.

    When it comes to education...

    1) ...we have to stop pretending that teachers need to cover every curriculum expectation. The curriculum should be seen as a "guide". Teachers shouldn't be afraid to deviate from it in order to give students authentic and rich learning experiences.

    2) ...we have to stop pretending that teachers are supposed to be "walking encyclopedias" and know everything. I remember my first few years in the profession like they were yesterday. I dreaded moments when students would have endless questions about various topics. I often found myself in a state of panic and on many occasions would ask myself, "How am I going to get out of this?" and "What if I don't know the answer?" Nowadays, I am the first to admit to students that I don't know everything. We brainstorm and find out the answers together.

    3) ...we have to stop pretending that every student knows how to access and gather information. We all know that we are teaching in an era where technology is prevalent and many students have their own devices. Just because students are engaged in and know how to use technology, doesn't mean they know how to access and gather information. Developing strong information literacy skills are essential in today's world and for the future.

    4) ...we have to stop pretending that every student learns the same way and has the same interests/passions. Two words: Genius Hour. Genius Hour gives students the opportunity to explore a topic or issue of their choice. Students are given a "voice" in how they want to present their "passion". Genius Hour creates exciting opportunities and allows students to tap into their creative "genius". I have observed students using technology related programs to build game apps/websites as well as to create videos using Green Screen software. I also had the opportunity to hear students present orally on personal issues such as depression and bipolar disorder. There are no written quizzes/tests or oral exams with Genius Hour.

    5) ...we have to stop pretending that the school library/teacher librarian is not relevant anymore. I am fortunate to be a teacher-librarian in a school board that fully supports the role. Opinions differ in regards to the importance of school libraries in an age where information is so readily available online 24/7. I believe school libraries and teacher librarians are essential in helping students develop skills in becoming critical thinkers as well as respectful digital citizens. Teacher librarians also help foster a love of literacy among students through a variety of initiatives such as book fairs, literacy nights and author visits.

    Thanks Amy for nominating me for the #MakeSchoolDifferent challenge!


    1. Great list, Jess. I am particularly fond of #1! Thanks for participating.

  3. Thank you for taking the time to do this, Jess! I agree that #3 is very important (digital natives are not necessarily digital experts). #5 is very important these days - not everyone understands the power of the teacher-librarians to support their teachers and students in adapting innovative practices. TL's are a key part of the 'makeschooldifferent' movement.


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