Learning Is a Circle, not a Line
Opportunity. Practice. Feedback. Performance. Feedback. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. This, I believe, is what learning looks like. Or should look like. But, in truth, this is not the path that it generally follows in many classrooms. And while it’s no one’s fault, it’s everyone’s fault at the same time. We have believed for too long and continue to believe on too many levels that coverage, not competence is the beacon on the horizon. So we chase the light, but as the light dims behind us in our persistent push forward, too many kids get left behind. After all, we must get to the the next section by tomorrow; we must get to the next chapter by the end of the week. Must we? And, if so, at what cost? What if the kids aren’t ready? What if they just needed a little more time, another chance–or two or three–to perform proficiently? Does this approach foster growth mindsets? One of my seniors wasn’t so sure last week, calling BS on the growth mindset movement.
“If our school values growth mindsets, then why don’t all teachers offer retakes or corrections on tests? Is “yet” really possible without an opportunity to try again?”
On one hand, I am thrilled that our discussions on mindset have resonated with her. On the the other hand, I am troubled by the fact that any inspiration she found will likely to soon give way to apathy, will to soon reinforce what she has experienced all along: learning has not been about growth; learning has been about movement, getting through the curriculum. So what do we do?
Well, slow down for one. But more than slowing down, we have to re-imagine what learning is. It is not about how much stuff we cover in our time with the kids. It is about how much growth our kids experience in our time with them. That is all that matters. No, I will not cover everything. I can’t anyway. There simply is not enough time or space. So, I am going to be very intentional about what I choose to do with my kids to get the most out of our time together. Thus, the 10 Super-Student Standards, the 10 ways in which my kids will grow this year. I’ll hang my hat on it. But the standards really are only ways to specifically articulate measurement of growth, growth towards THE goal this year. Everyone improves. Some will make huge gains this year. Others’ gains will be more modest. And a few, sadly, will grow very little. Regardless the outcome, the process will be such that I encourage and support each along his or her way. It’s all I can do. But, in the end, if they leave better readers, writers, thinkers, then that’s not so bad.
Above, I shared our current work, our current process with using hooks in writing to engage readers. While it is not in and of itself a super standard, it is part of the larger scheme for my students to build capacity and proficiency as writers, a scheme for growth that requires feedback, support, practice, and continuous opportunities to demonstrate progress towards mastery. The student work above was the kids’ first chance to show me where they are currently with writing hooks. And while the two examples above hit the target, there is still room for growth. Always room for growth. In truth, most of my kids did not hit the target on this first opportunity. But now, through feedback and support, I believe many more will the next time. The resource sheet above was constructed in response to my discovery that the kids do not have enough hook strategies in their baskets, so I put together a resource sheet along with a focused practice activity (not pictured) to support their next opportunity, an opportunity that they will experience again this week as we continue to focus on hooks. Opportunity. Practice. Feedback. Performance. Feedback. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. A circle, a record that I’ll keep spinning. Again and again.
Happy Monday, all. Sorry for the windy post this morning.