We don't need to reinvent the wheel.
What does that mean? To me not reinventing something - anything - means we are satisfied with what we have. Or at the very least, we are satisfied with what someone else has given us. Does anyone else see a problem here?
I'm not even going to try to count the number of times an administrator, teaching coach, or workshop presenter has told the participants that because someone has already created something, we don't need to put any thought into it.
I can't fathom a world where teachers are expected to just roll over and take everything so verbatim, but let's keep with the original metaphor that's overused in our field - We don't need to reinvent the wheel - to which I reply, "That's a bunch of bologna!" That's exactly why the technology of Back to the Future's 2016 hasn't shown up by now. Not reinvent the wheel?How else will we ever get our cars off the ground? Come on, people!
Is that the message we want to spread to our children? If so, then we are perpetually stuck in the present with no hope of a better, brighter future. Not reinventing the wheel means that I am satisfied with mediocre, that I have no desire for something better, that I have no need for improvement in my life.
As far as teaching goes, it means I can continue to recopy that ragged, old worksheet I've assigned to kids for over a decade. Call it dedication to a worksheet, if you want, but it may be better labeled lazy (Now before you get you feelers hurt, you should understand that I'm preaching to myself as much as to you. In fact, after we evaluate that worksheet each time it is distributed, we may deem it worthy of another yearly repeat.). But we may also tweak that thing. We might put glitter on it. We could electrify it, turn it 3D, and fly it around the room a couple of times before we assign it again.
And don't just accept someone else's expert advice in the teachers edition either. Textbook companies are well overpaid at the taxpayers' expense to make it look like they are complying with research and the newest standards (and now that you've got me started, I'll have to post a whole new Professional Pet Peeve about following the TE!). The point is this: you are the professional. So start acting like it. Most of you know more than the textbook about what works for you and what works for your class. Consider that when you open the book for the next lesson you tackle. Admit it: you could teach it better without that book, and your students might even find it easier to pay attention (Then again, that's for another post. See what you did.).
Reinvent the stinkin' wheel, people! How far do you think we can take this thing?