A bus ride is like being in another world.
J. A. Redmerski
We were at a school board meeting, discussing how to fill a position for a bus driver, as well as the protocol for calling in a substitute when a driver was ill. “Well, it was easier but so much worse when I started teaching,” the superintendent leading the meeting said. Dick had worked in schools for over 40 years, and was nearing retirement.
“Easier but worse?” I asked. He went on to explain that decades ago there was a severe shortage of bus drivers in rural Maine, and it was nearly impossible to get a substitute when someone was ill.
So, the state had a rule that any school staff member could drive a school bus 10 times without the proper certification as long as they had a standard driver’s license. After 10 times driving the bus, they would need to take the written and driving tests to become professionally certified. When the bus driver called in sick and your little school had no backup, the principal would go through the staff list to see who had driven the bus less than 10 times. It was one of the on-call dreaded duties, like covering lunch or recess. I imagine some terrified 21-year-old fresh out of a teaching college behind the wheel of a bus full of screaming kids.
The law was on the books for years till it was finally removed a few decades ago. I have talked with many old-timers in Maine schools, and a few of them remember it. It’s not shocking that you can’t find it anywhere on the internet. It’s probably not something state officials would want to publicize.
Practices that are accepted, even ingrained, get challenged only when someone is willing to question them—persistently, rationally, and unceasingly. It often takes some moms—that’s how drunk driving finally moved from being socially acceptable to a felony offense in less than a decade’s time. That’s why there is finally some movement toward sensible gun control laws in many states and communities. And I suspect it’s why bus drivers are all certified now in Maine.
This is the way we’ve always done it. Anytime your answer begins with that phrase, it’s probably a good practice to question or reconsider. If something is not working in your classroom, ask yourself why you’re doing it. And if the immediate answer is “it worked in the past,” then it’s probably time to find a new way.
This week we look at self-assessment, the second and final installment in our assessment series. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Carly Ullmer shares how much her seventh-grade students learn from examining their own growth as writers with baseline, midpoint, and final assessments throughout the year.
Melanie Meehan works with fifth graders to help them create their own set of indicators of success in a writing unit.
Abby Cooper finds she is beating herself up over what her students can’t do. She takes a deep breath and a good look around her classroom, and finds there is much to celebrate.
You can meet many of your favorite Choice Literacy writers this summer at The Lead Learners Summer Institute in Warsaw, Indiana on June 22-23. Choice Literacy members receive discounts of 20-40% off the institute fee based on your membership tier. For more information on presenters and workshop descriptions, click here.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Tammy Mulligan explains the process of having students analyze and create models of good writing and analysis for assessing themselves and peers.
In this week’s video, Melissa Atwood leads a first-grade guided reading group. This is the second video in a two-part series, and we provide a catch-up link to part 1 if you missed it.
Kate Mills notes her own miscues in reading a bedtime story to her young children, and thinks about what that means for analyzing the running records of readers in primary classrooms.
In an encore video, Ruth Shagoury interviews sixth graders in Katie Doherty’s class about their interests and progress as readers throughout the year.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
Matt Renwick is like any of us—he is nervous about what he will learn when he asks teachers to assess his performance as a principal. He shares findings from a survey he gives to teachers.
Special education teacher Julianne Houser and fourth-grade teacher Heidi discuss how they can work together to support specific students, assessing needs and strategies to meet them.
Cathy Mere explains her thinking process in evaluating literacy research, and invites other literacy leaders to share their “go-to” reading and writing researchers.
Even cowards can endure hardship. Only the brave can endure suspense.
That’s all for this week!