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April 2-4, 2016
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ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

2016 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

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May 2014 | Volume 71 | Number 8
Professional Learning: Reimagined Pages 76-78

The Trouble with Top-Down

Rebecca Van Tassell

A small group of teachers were energized by learning from one another—until the learning was mandated.

Four years ago, as a brand-new science teacher, I was working in a demanding, urban charter school. My days were endless: Wake up at 5:00, start my hour-long commute at 6:30; start my teaching duties at 8:00; teach until 4:00 with only a half-hour for lunch (during which I had to supervise the lunchroom); stay after school for extra help and meetings until 5:30. Once I made it home, sometimes as late as 7:00, I would start grading and planning for the next day.

Teaching was no cakewalk. Some of my students strained my capacity for patience and compassion. After pouring all of my creativity nightly into planning engaging lessons, I would struggle to get my lessons to take off. Even with only 20 students in the room, it takes incredible energy, skill, focus, and agility to manage teenagers' individual needs.


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