In another week or so, I will be working with a whole group of kindergarten teachers all day. What the heck do I know about teaching kindergarten? Nothing. Will the kindergarten teachers care about that? It's highly unlikely. This is one of the odd, but pleasant, things that I've discovered in my district role of Science Goddess. Elementary teachers are very welcoming of those who don't have the same pedagogical knowledge. I think it's because they're expected to have expertise in all content areas, so anyone who can provide them with guidance and support is encouraged to do so. The teachers will fill in the developmentally appropriate information.
This reverse of all of this is not true. Secondary teachers are content specialists already and most of them snub their noses at the idea that there are things to learn from those teaching the younger grades. And in the meantime, secondary education remains quite stubbornly stuck in its ways.
Our elementaries have, for the most part, embraced constructivist principles, instructional coaching, and standards-based planning, assessment, and grade reporting. As much as I complain about their lack of focus in science, I have to give them props for being quite progressive in their work with students. This doesn't mean every single teacher is on board and/or excited about all of these items, but there is enough of a critical mass of enthusiasm to keep carrying things along.
The Union here has stated that standards-based grading will never be a part of secondary, because those teachers "won't stand for it." The same is true for other initiatives and it makes me wonder why elementary teachers are more adaptable...and what it will take to shake up our secondary teachers and get them to really think about what they're doing in the classroom and why. How do we get away from the "same-old, same-old," and move to a more learner-centered practice? How do we respect the content knowledge of our secondary teachers while encouraging them to improve their pedagogy so that kids love the content as much as teachers do? What do we do to help teachers understand that standards are not a threat and that equity in what we do for students is imperative?