Dear Dr. Marzano, Even You Have the Right to be Wrong

If you have been a teacher for any number of years, you have come across the writings and research of Dr. Robert Marzano. Workshops, professional development, and PLT’s frequently reference him and his work quite often.

There is still a copy of Classroom Instruction That Works on one of my bookshelves in the basement. A principal I worked for one time had department chairs read it and lead their departments through exploring its ideas.

On June 30, Dr. Marzano tweeted the following:


That’s a tall order for teachers today, especially in a standardized test – crazy system that has larger and larger class sizes.  It might be well intentioned, but it is also a naive and mistaken assessment, especially for a person who has such a pedigree in pedagogy and instruction.

The quote itself seems a little odd. “Systemically” makes it seem that the root of any “boredom,” “inattentiveness,” or “disengagement” is not on a personal level, but due to the structure of schooling that here in North Carolina seems to be controlled more by people in Raleigh rather than teachers themselves. If teachers had more say in the “reforms” that have been implemented in the past years, then maybe all of this becomes a moot point.

But when it comes to attention and engagement in classrooms, the teacher is not in direct control of all. The teacher is highly influential, but not in total control. Too many other factors are at play. Students bring in with them into each class so many variables that affect them which reside outside of the four walls of a classroom.


  • poverty
  • hunger
  • sickness
  • stress
  • angst
  • depression
  • mental illness
  • hormones
  • abuse
  • ADD
  • ADHD
  • death in family
  • fatigue
  • a genuine dislike for school
  • too many other personalities on class
  • safety issues

Sometimes the trees look really nice outside set against the blue of a crisp sky as the thoughts of a big date come to the mind. Sometimes the devastation of something that happened yesterday keeps a student still in shock. One time, I even had a student start labor pains in class. I think she had ample reason to be disengaged from Shakespeare for that class period. And there are so many more stressors that affect students who are legally bound to be in school settings until a certain age.

But if what Marzano says is true, then teachers should be paid so much more because mind-control ain’t a cheap skill. Neither is the ability to work against so many factors that work to impede student progress and student growth which is what teachers do every day in public schools.

If Dr. Marzano does not believe me, then I will have my sub plans ready for him to cover my classes come September.




3 thoughts on “Dear Dr. Marzano, Even You Have the Right to be Wrong

  1. I love the “experts” who haven’t taught on a daily basis in decades telling the folks in the trenches how to best teach.

    Marzano’a work does offer interesting insights for consideration. But, I am offended by his blanket assertion. Education is not meant to be entertaining; education at its best must be hard work 😓 the sole object of which is the development of life long critical thinking skills and essential content knowledge by students.

    Teachers are working with human beings not automatons. Yes, we need to make lesson plans engaging. However, skill sets and knowledge are acquired only by the dint of great effort.


  2. Could you speak to the state of NCAE and the Janus decision? It seems that NC teachers are losing ground – in healthcare and salaries. For a state with seeming prosperity, what gives?


Comments are closed.