being a teacher, education reform, testing

Frog and Toad Make Me Think about Our School System

A List
By Arnold Lobel

One morning Toad sat in the bed. “I have many things to do,” he said. “I will have many things to do,” he said.  “I will write them all down on a   list  so that I can remember them.”  Toad wrote down on a piece of paper:
A List of things to do today

Then he wrote:
Wake up
“I have done that,” said Toad and he crossed out:
Wake Up
Then Toad wrote other things on the paper.

A list of things to do today
Wake Up
Eat Breakfast
Get dressed
Go to Frog’s house
Take walk with Frog
Eat lunch
Take nap
Play game with Frog
Eat supper
Go to sleep

 “There ,” said Toad. “Now my day is all written down.”  He got out of bed and had something to eat.  
Then Toad crossed out:  Eat Breakfast.
Toad took his clothes out of the closet and put them on. Then he crossed out: Get dressed.
Toad put the list in his pocket.  He opened the door and walked  out into the morning.  Soon Toad was at Frog’s  front door.   He took the list from his pocket and crossed out:
Go to Frog’s house

Toad knocked at the door. “Hello,” said Frog.  “Look at my list of things to do,” said Toad. “Oh,” said Frog, “that is very nice.”   Toad said, “My list tells me that we will go for a walk.” “All right,” said Frog.  “I am ready.” Frog and Toad went on a long walk. Then Toad took the list from his pocket again. He crossed out: Take walk with Frog.  Just then there was a strong wind.  It blew the list out of Toad’s hand.  The list blew high up into the air. “Help!” cried Toad.  “My list is blowing away.  What
will I do without my list?” “Hurry!” said Frog. “We will run and catch it.” “No!” shouted Toad. “I cannot do that.” “Why not?” asked Frog. “Because,” wailed Toad, “running after my list in not one of the things that I wrote on my list of things to do!” Frog ran after the list.  He ran over hills and swamps, but the list blew on and on.  At last Frog came back to Toad. “I am sorry,” gasped Frog, “but I could not catch your list,” “Blah,” said Toad.”I cannot remember any of the things that were on my list of things to do.  I will just have to sit here and do nothing,” said Toad. Toad sat and did nothing.  Frog sat with him.  After a long time  Frog said, “Toad, it is getting dark.  We should be going to sleep now.” “Go to sleep!” shouted Toad.  “That was the last thing on my list!” Toad wrote on the ground with a stick:  Go to sleep. Then he crossed out:  Go to sleep. “There,” said Toad.  “Now my day is all crossed out!” “I am glad,” said Frog.  
Then Frog and Toad went right to sleep.

The End

How many times do we have to stick to our list and pass by those teachable moments?
How many times do we not get to explore because that particular direction has not been dictated to us?
How many times must we take a path that does not engage the students?
How many times do we lose our list and instead just bumble along until we get to the end of the day?

How many times do we give up teaching curriculum in a meaningful way and teach to the test instead, hurrying so we may cross things off our list?
How often do we tell others that they must comply because our list says so?

3 thoughts on “Frog and Toad Make Me Think about Our School System”

  1. Thought provoking questions, as always Pernille. I struggle with many of those various issues. Even as I prepare for a starkly different year than my previous years in the classroom, I can't seem to escape the tension between choosing strategies that will hopefully promote deep learning and the pressure to "cover" enough material before standardized testing in the spring.

  2. Chris, the first time I read the story it just struck me. This is exactly what many of us are forced to do or think is right in our classrooms; make a list and then struggle to get it down. If we lose the list then we don't quite know what to do. I certainly was a part of this my first year of teaching, always worried that I would lose the list. Now we just are in the mad dash to cover everything so no one can blame us for having those students miss out. Thank you for your comment.

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