I wore the same mascara for eight years. This summer, I traveled to a wedding and three hours into the drive, realized I had forgotten my makeup bag. So I went into Target and (since they didn’t have my preferred brand) found one that would get me by. I could use it for the weekend and be back to my beloved mascara by Monday.
But that’s not what happened. The new mascara (affiliate link) went on easily and looked better. My eyelashes looked darker, longer, and fuller than they ever have. In fact, three people told me they liked my eyes! What? No way! How could a mascara that was one-third the price be better than the expensive name brand I had been wearing for years? Yet it was.
It’s funny how small things can sometimes be game changers. Take our curriculum, for example. Some boxed programs come with all the bells and whistles—the teaching manual, children’s texts, workbooks, decodable readers, parent letters, various ancillaries, and more. I think the last kit my school purchased even came with puppets and game boards! These programs are extremely pricey, which can lead purchasers to believe they are better.
It’s been my experience that when districts purchase these major programs, they provide a day or two of training and “gift” us with a large supply of new materials. Then they walk away fully believing that with this expensive program, we will be able to help all students meet or exceed grade-level standards. In reality, we spend days upon days working to figure out how to make this “gift” meet the needs of all of our students, when deep down we know that if there was one program that worked for everyone, the whole world would be using it already.
Analogy? These big boxed programs are name-brand mascara.
So, if boxed programs are the name-brand mascara, what is the equivalent of the general store find? Daily 5 and CAFE/good teaching.
With Daily 5 and CAFE our money goes to increasing classroom libraries. We know the best way to become a better reader is to immerse ourselves in books and spend time reading, so what better way to spend money than on books students can devour?
Daily 5 and CAFE focus on the systems and processes needed for independent reading. The training isn’t on how to use materials, but on how to determine student needs and teach for understanding and application. They consist of a system and structure that focus on the core components of good teaching and set us up for success in meeting the needs of each student.
So, if it’s true that small, basic things can be game changers, maybe we can challenge ourselves to look at our beloved classroom practices. Is there anything we are holding on to that needs to make way for a cost-effective, better alternative? The first alternative that comes to mind is choice. I’m convinced that if you give any of these a try, you won’t go back.
- choice over what to read
- choice over what to write
- choice over the order in which to do Daily 5 components
Whatever you decide, I’m pretty sure once you have witnessed the results you will join me in a decision to not go back.