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First, We Do: Project 180, Day 99

Today is our first “Do” of the new semester. The kids will do their first performance today. For two weeks now, we have been warming up to and practicing our new “Chasing-Better Chant.” We have been talking the Do-Reflect-Do Better game (the kids and I say this every day), but today we will walk the game. Today, we will do, so we can reflect and then do better.

As I recently explained in two posts about our changes this semester (Business, Pt. 1 and Business, Pt. 2), we are taking a “learning-by-performing” approach this term. We learned, and we believe, that our kids’ best learning came from their performance opportunities last semester. It was the space and place where we gave them feedback; it is the space and place where they grew, so we are providing a steady diet this semester. Our goal is to put a performance on the table each week, an assessment (we call them performances) that asks them to take aim at one or more of our focus standards. From that aim and subsequent “shot,” we judge our kids’ performances: 3=hit the target, 2=near miss, 1=far miss. For our 2’s and 1’s we then give the necessary feedback for them to take better aim next time. I know some look at this metaphor with disfavor for its violent undertones, but our goal here is not to create such a “graphic” space; it is simply an approach that makes sense to us and our kids. Sorry if it offends.

So, today, I will put the first performance in front of my kids. We talked about it yesterday. In fact, I handed it to them. You let the kids see the assessment before they took it? Of course, I did. Why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t I want them to know what they are being asked to do? There needs to be no mystery in it. There needs to be no secret for them to uncover, no “gotcha” to get them. That is not how I conduct business. It is not how I develop trust among my kids. I want them to feel supported, so I can challenge them. If I am telling kids that their learning will be judged solely on their performances, then I have to create an experience where they not only trust me  but also themselves to make  and learn from mistakes. And I believe that begins with my being transparent. So, I am.

Of course, it also requires an approach that allows them to re-engage the learning experience. So, we create similar experiences around the same standard(s), enabling kids to apply what they have learned from their missteps. But we also, allow multiple retakes, as many as requested by the kid. If a kid wants to prove his learning, we will not stand in the way. If there is a will, there is way in our classrooms. Always a way.

After the kids do today. I will score their performances and give them feedback. They will then reflect and have an opportunity to do better. That’s our growth mindset.

Today’s Trail

Along today’s trail we will…

…begin with Smiles and Frowns (even on performance days).


…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme.

Happy Friday, all. Have a great weekend.

Do. Reflect. Do Better.

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