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Got Guts?: Morning Minutes, April 16, 2016



So, this is a rare Saturday morning post, but yesterday I got an unexpected comment on Facebook in response to my plan for next year, and it inspired me. The comment came from Kyle Schlehuber, a former runner, who was on my cross-country team when I was a coach at Royal HS. He reminded me that I was able to take running–an otherwise despised activity–and make it, if not enjoyable, at least less-despicable, often inspiring kids to do what they believed they could not “…to learn…they must understand it and enjoy it. Teachers must be able to provide in a way that they can learn as a team. I feel you can do this as you did as a coach.”  Kyle then signed off with, “Got guts?”

Each week on Monday, we celebrated with weekly awards before practice. One of the awards was the “gutsiest performance award” for which kids (both a boy and a girl) were given a “got guts?” shirt for their gutsy performance the previous week. And while I believe over the course of four years Kyle earned a shirt more than once, a particular performance stands out for which he gave his gutsiest ever.  At a meet in Zillah, WA with over a mile to go on a rough course, Kyle lost a shoe. It was a tight race, and Kyle was faced with a tough decision: stop and put the shoe back on and lose time and place or keep going with the risk of running slower with only one shoe. Kyle kept going, losing neither time nor place. And though he suffered for it, his performance was critical to our win that day. Truly a “got-guts” performance. So, upon reading his post yesterday, I was both humbled and inspired to keep running for the next two years, even when the road gets rough. Thank you, Kyle. You have helped steel my resolve for what’s to come.

In addition to Kyle’s comments yesterday, another experience conspired against me, pushing me forth through the remnants of doubt lingering in my mind. In yesterday’s post, I referenced the book, The Art of Possibility, a book that I had read nearly ten years ago. The quote I shared yesterday I found online, for I have not cracked the book since. Heck I wasn’t even sure I still had it. So, curious, I dug through my cabinets of books when I got to school yesterday morning, and I found it. And as book lovers will understand, it was an old friend well met. And after a brief embrace, I revisited a memory, the chapter titled, “Giving an A.” This is what I found.

File_000 (16)

Not sure if you can read it, but I wrote, “I just hope I have the skills and courage to help my kids get there.” Well, ten years later I believe I have found the courage, the “guts;” now, I just hope that I have the skills.

Happy Saturday, all. Find some sunshine today.

superman

 



4 Replies to “Got Guts?: Morning Minutes, April 16, 2016”

  • I knew all this was coming, just a gut feeling (pardon the pun!) I asked Jenna where you were headed while we are on vacation and she indicated it was something radical, but your story to tell. So, I am making a transition to a new school and I am wondering if now is the time to be a little gutsy? I like the 4, 3, 2, 1 grading scale because of the simplicity it brings to scoring. Please recognize that I also have 3.5, 3.2, etc in the scale so that students who meet the expectation/target/standard are earning a “B” grade. One of my students recently said, “I did all this work and received a 3.2?” I explained my rationale including the idea that the gap between a 3.2 and 2 is much smaller and more reachable for other students. Should everyone earn an A? Not sure, but in my new role everyone will start with an A and then we will go from their. In my interview (which has been a skill I haven’t used in 15+ years), I was asked, “Which students should pass your class?” I thought there might be a catch, some new concept that I had not read about or learned from a staff collaboration. My response was simple, “Everyone has the right to pass my class. I don’t just throw out grades, but consider how much the student should have learned along the way if they haven’t scored well during the semester.” I am still mulling the question in my head because it really made me pause and think about student grades.

    Excited to see this journey unfold!

    • Hi, Marie. Thank your for joining the conversation. I think the present is always the time to be a little–maybe a lot–gutsy. So, if I am following you, the recent interview question has given you pause and now you are reflecting upon and even evaluating your practice. Yes? And, too, it sounds like you are not ready to get too crazy yet, but you have worked out an approach that begins by starting each kid with an “A.” Based on a recent article that I read–which of course I can’t find now–I would recommend the opposite. Start each kid at zero. When they start at zero, their learning becomes a path for growth, a positive, I-can-and-will-improve-as-we-progress approach. When they start at 100, their learning becomes a route of reduction, generally making each experience either neutral or negative, chipping away, rather than building upon. I think in the article they called it “reverse grading.” I assume your new job is still in D81, and you guys are still using SBG, yes? If so, you have a luxury that many of us don’t in that you work in a district that has already made significant strides in changing grading practices. SBG works very well with reverse grading, starting at zero, especially if kids have redo and retake opportunities to demonstrate proficiency against the standards. Reverse grading I think goes a long way in creating a community where learning is about gain and progression, not about loss and regression. I am not sure if this helps, but I wanted to share my thinking. Thank you for sharing yours. I have truly appreciated your participation in this from the beginning. Good luck with your new job and disrupted, dissonant thinking. It means you’re on your way to finding new harmony. Bravo.

      • Thanks for the response. I will look for the article topic. SBG is a reality for the math folks who have really focused on the targets. The rest of us fumble along.

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