In the south we love cafeteria food. When I was a child my grandmother took me to Morrison’s or S&S at least once a week. We pushed our trays along the line, picking and choosing from an assortment of options.
In the south we like unlimited options, but reserve our right to be picky.
We often gravitate to old standbys.
Greens, jello salad, baked chicken, fried fish, egg custard pie, sweet tea.
Roll or cornbread?
Fried, buttered, smothered.
Sure, there are healthy options, the salads at the front of the line. But, more often than not we pick the least healthy options.
My son came home from camping this weekend and he immediately wanted a big meal.
No, we didn’t do cafeteria food (I wish we had cafeteria food in my town!).
Over lunch we were talking about school and my sixth grader began making a list of things we should just say no to in education.
As he described some of the practices he wished would go away, I got to thinking,
“EDUCATORS ARE KIND OF LIKE CAFETERIA LINE PATRONS.”
At any given time we have a smorgasbord of options to choose from. Project-based learning, cross-curricular integration, technology integration, annotate, close read, textbook or no textbook, student choice, mastery grading, standards- based grading, cooperative group work, Professional Learning Communities, Socratic seminars….the list goes on and on.
Sometimes we pick up too many things off the education cafeteria line.
Sometimes we pick up too few.
Sometimes we pick up the unhealthy options. Popcorn reading, multiple choice tests, one size fits all reading assignments, worksheets, less than purposeful homework, little to no student choice, whole class punishments, zeroes in the grade book, working in isolation, being defensive, sitting behind the desk…that list goes on and on too.
Here’s the thing. Cafeterias are beautiful in their choice.
But, sometimes you pick too much and you are full too early.
Sometimes you pick the unhealthy options and are later disappointed.
Sometimes we can’t decide what to pick so we don’t end up with what we really want.
Sometimes we are overwhelmed with the choices.
Sometimes we can’t carry our trays back to the table.
Our responsibility as educators is to be thoughtful and purposeful in our choices as we slide along the cafeteria line of education. To not overfill our trays.