Fidelity isn’t a word you often hear in the education world, but this unlikely word is completely applicable to teachers in their classrooms.
The Oxford English Dictionary provides the following definition:
Fidelity (n.): faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.
For us, in education, we can extrapolate that to mean faithfulness to, loyalty for and support of your core curriculum. It means exercising your judgement by making professional decisions as you teach the core curriculum. Simply put, educators can adjust the definition:
Fidelity (n): teaching the core curriculum while making professional decisions.
Teachers today, especially in math, have to cover each page in their textbook in order to have fidelity within the delivery of their content. At times, it might feel like our degree and professionalism has been taken away from us by scripted textbooks and workbooks. In the midst of this, it is easy to get discouraged, feeling like we are teaching a mile long, covering topics just to say we “covered” them.
But our educators’ definition of fidelity brings about freedom! We know that helping students truly reach a depth of understanding about a topic (“mile deep” mentality), helping them recognize real life application in the content we teach, is more beneficial than a surface knowledge of a whole range of subjects (“mile long” mentality). Every day, we make informal decisions about our instruction based on how our students learn and what we know is best for them. Fidelity allows you to teach the core curriculum, while leaving room for your professional judgment. This as a reminder that you are making great decisions in your teaching every day!
Need a visible reminder? Print out a copy of the free poster to hang up in your room and help you remember to practice teaching the core curriculum while making professional decisions on a daily basis.