The reading series we're going to use for the next five years in our district was announced today. I think though, that the state of education almost demands that we define ourselves by the programs we teach. In our state, it is required that we use a program that is "Scientifically Based Reading Research." I always hate this time because I really would rather teach kids than programs. And I'd like to believe that every teacher in every classroom wants to do the same. But I don't.
And as much as I'd like to believe that every teacher (particularly at Elementary) would make educated instructional decisions for EACH and EVERY child in his or her classroom, the truth is some don't. So, in my opinion, we "idiot proof" those who choose not to think deeply about their students and individualize their instruction by giving them programs that require little, if any, decision-making. And by doing so, in some ways, we may water down those who used to trust their professional judgment.
Don't get me wrong. I don't hate programs. I only hate it when we, as educators, move mindlessly through them like we believe that some publisher somewhere knows and understands the students who sit before us each and every day. There's nothing wrong with research or even most research-based programs. They are tools. Resources. They should be one of many things we have in our repertoire.
When I teach kids, I teach THEM. If it's with the program, great. If the program doesn't have what they need at a particular point in time, I find what they need. I make no apologies. I am their teacher. It's what I am paid to do.
What do you do when it comes to determining what materials and resources to use with your students?