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“A” Stands for Accountability: Morning Minutes, April 21, 2016

“…since they own the A, they will assume responsibility for it; they will own it; and here–finally–is the catch, they will sign for it.”

Yesterday, I suggested that questions need answers. I also suggested that questions are crucial, an absolutely necessary part of the process. Well, my mom, doing what moms do, grilled me yesterday on “How the heck are you going to determine the A at the end?” I suspect at this point my mom is not the only one wondering about accountability once everyone has an A, so I think it’s time to share my tentative, still-lots-to-consider-and work-through plan to create accountability in 219 next year.

First, I will have given the kids A’s, so there will be no traditional, did-you-earn-the-A step at the end of the semester. The kids from day one will own their A. It’s theirs. However, ownership requires responsibility. It is theirs to take care of, it is theirs to “live into.” They must own it. Feed it. Nurture it. Sustain it. And not for me. For themselves. I no longer own it. I gave it–a gift “to live into.”

Last week I talked about motivation and one of the critical elements in this approach is that kids–and parents–must own it. That is where true motivation begins and ends. As such, since they own the A, they will assume responsibility for it; they will own it; and here–finally–is the catch, they will sign for it. I’ll explain below.

Accountability Plan 1.0 (Fall Semester 2016)

  1. Learning Logs (final name TBD). Set on a two-week cycle, kids will log their learning, which will include but not be limited to: learning goals, daily reflection, record of practice, analysis of teacher feedback and performance data with evidence for meeting standard or explanation for why standard is not yet met, self-assessment, etc. Every other Friday will be devoted to final compilation, completion of learning logs, which will then be taken home and shared with parents. There will also be a community circle forum, where we discuss and evaluate as a class how things are going and what we can do to improve the learning in 219. I will collect the learning logs on Monday–if it has both a student and parent signature. It may otherwise be blank, but I will not accept it without the signatures. Kids and parents will have to own it. If they don’t, then they will lose the A, and end up owning an “S” at the end of the semester. A mark on the final report card that gives credit but has no bearing on a student’s GPA. So, there is a small price to pay for the A. This will happen nine times a semester. The final log will be comprehensive.
  2. Learning Reports. Every six weeks I will complete and send home a learning report for each kid, reporting not only on his/her academic progress but also his/her work and behavior habits. Parents and kids must sign these, too. Kids will always have an opportunity to challenge my evaluation, but they must offer up evidence against my judgment. This will happen three times a semester. The final report will be comprehensive.
  3. Student-led Learning Conferences. At the end of the semester, students will lead a comprehensive learning conference with their parents. This can either be done on a scheduled evening at school or at home. Signatures required.
  4. Skyward. I will still utilize Skyward to report on practice and performance. This way parents can take a look between learning logs and reports to see what practice kids are completing and see how they are performing on the assessments. All entries in Skyward will be no count, but parents will have a window into what’s happening day to day.

So, that’s the plan for now. It will no doubt change as we move forward and learn along the way, but I want folks to know that I have thought about this. I am not setting kids adrift, left to list on their own in the ocean of learning. I am merely forcing some freedom, pushing some ownership. I am not going anywhere. The learning guard is on duty, ready to throw kids a lifeline when necessary, but they are going to have to swim.

Happy Thursday, all. Thanks mom for doing what moms do. Love you.



10 Replies to ““A” Stands for Accountability: Morning Minutes, April 21, 2016”

  • Great start to your plan! You anticipated one of my questions– once you liberate yourself and your students from the perfunctory “grading,” how will you get on to the real work of “evaluating”? Looks like you’re a long way toward getting that figured out!

    • Thanks, Valeo. It will certainly be a work in progress. I am excited to learn with the kids about putting learning on center stage in our classroom. Thank you, as ever, for chiming in.

  • Thanks Mont, love you too. He who shovels snow, stacks wood, spends hours getting the perfect placement for a rock in his wall, all these things done methodically and with a lot of thought, how could I not believe that he wouldn’t give thought to this project too?!I listened to your verbal explanation yesterday and it looks even more doable this morning.

  • This is so exciting! I can’t wait to see how this new “way” of leading and teaching your (our) students plays out. I’m excited for the kids, glad to be your witness on this journey, and I’m proud of you babe!

  • I think that this will work. You have obviously put a lot of work into this, and I think that it’ll pay off. I’m excited to see how this pans out!

    • As always, Amarise,thank you for the support. Sorry that I was not ready to do this for you and your classmates this year.

      • It’s totally ok. Stuff like this doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve always been an overachiever, so I feel like I would have a much harder time in class if I didn’t have to work for my grade. That’s just me. So it worked out for me.

  • This is so exciting! I can’t wait to see how this new “way” of leading and teaching your (our) students plays out. I’m glad to be your witness on this journey and I’m proud of you babe!

    • Thanks, Sher. Thank you for all the support and understanding you are providing as I make my way. Thank you, too, for being my ever-present witness. Now as ever, can’t do it without you. Loves.

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