When I think about our encore subjects, or specials as some districts call them, I think my expectations are greater in some ways than for the core subjects. After all, teachers of encore subjects don’t have to worry about the Regents exams and they aren’t scrutinized in the K-12 analysis of data. So why would my expectations be greater?
For many children, this is the only place that they can excel. For a student who doesn’t fit the traditional mold of a successful learner, physical education, art, music, technology, and home & careers may be the only place the student finds success. This makes the child’s experience in those classes critical. As I’ve written here before, we have to connect with our students in ways that make coming to school important to them and the “specials” are a great way to make that happen.
As teachers and parents talk about high expectations, let’s remember to include these encore subjects. But let’s remember them as the place where students have an opportunity to create, to enjoy, to appreciate, to move, and to love learning. The encore subjects, above all, should allow children to follow their passions and to enjoy school. I have high expectations for them because they afford the diversity of learning that I so long for in our schools.
Thank you to the wonderful, caring teachers working so hard in these subjects. As staff development efforts continue to focus on data analysis in the core subjects, never forget how important your role is for our children. Finding success with you may just motivate students to keep working on those math problems and journal entries. Let them love what they do with you.