June 20, 2023
There is an energy crisis happening in education now. The crisis is impacting millions of young learners each day in schools across the country and much of the world. The crisis is empty classrooms across the U.S. and thousands of highly skilled educators seeking refuge outside the profession.
Unlike other energy crises, this one does not rely on anything other than how we teachers structure our classroom time. This energy crisis isn’t expensive to fix, nor does it take a long time to address. However, it takes a shift in practice and perspective—one that is decades overdue. Teachers whose energy is being drained by the chaos of recent years are finding deep wells of energy and student engagement when they shift to PULL new ways of learning that are profoundly student-centered and fundamentally adaptive.
A teacher’s role is vital to the success of happy and healthy students, but in recent times, teachers have expressed that the amount of work they are asked to complete by their supervisors is beyond what they can handle. Teachers fleeing the field of education is not a new phenomenon—it has only exploded in the past few years. Teachers feel that there is not enough time in the day to complete all of the work; they often arrive before the first bell and stay far after the last buses have pulled away.
This overwhelming feeling of too much work causes the kinds of burnout that are prevalent in education. The traditional systems of learning, built around antiquated ideas from the late 19th century by manufacturing consultants, like Frederick Taylor, have set the culture and mindset of PUSH. In a PUSH system, almost all of the responsibility lies with teachers: They have to read the learning standards, interpret them for their students, create and modify content, plan the pacing of content for 30 different minds, find ways to deliver content to all students at the same time, and finally, assess the content. This is all before teachers deal with classroom management, meetings, differentiation, paperwork, guidance, advisory, and administration. The roots of this PUSH system and its problems are described in detail in Todd Rose’s excellent book, The End of Average: Unlocking Our Potential by Embracing What Makes Us Different.
The culture of PUSH centers on teachers and their ability to hold everyone’s attention, provide all of the content, and find the right…