Thirty one days in, and we have reached an important milestone in Project 180. The first formal assessment is in the books…well, it is soon to be. A lot of work remains for me, but the kids’ work is done. And now, at this juncture in the journey, I can take stock, reflect, and seek out better as we make our way to the next milestone in the Project’s evolution. Do. Learn. Do Better.
Here are some random ruminations running around in my head that have led to some revelations/changes in the first month.
- In line with my belief that my primary role as a teacher is that of an opportunity provider and possibility peddler, I have begun calling our work and assessments by different names. Our work will now be called “practice opportunities,” and our assessments will be called “performance opportunities.” Truly, I feel that both are opportunities to learn, opportunities for feedback–the fuel for learning. And when we give kids the necessary nutrients, growth is possible. Opportunity. Possibility.
- Changes bring changes. Names matter. Though I will no doubt slip back into old habits from time-to-time and call it grading, I no longer grade student work. Even more, though I suppose technically it still is, I no longer feel like assessing student work is the most fitting name for what I do. I don’t grade; I don’t really assess; I give feedback. So, I am going to coin a new verb. I “feedback.” I give fuel (feed) back to the kids, so they may grow. So, as it goes, I don’t have a pile of performance opportunities to grade or assess. I have a pile of papers to feedback.
- Environment. Stemming from their own experiences, even those who aren’t teachers could generally describe a classroom testing environment. No talking. Eyes on own paper. Cover your answers. Desks clear. Phones away. Tests in by end of period. And so on. We’ve all lived it. Here is what the performance opportunity environment looked like yesterday.
- Open resource. Kids could use any assignments, notes, resources at their disposal–a benefit from doing the practice.
- No talking. But this was not to prevent cheating. In the P-180 classroom, there is no reason to cheat with an A in the grade book. No talking is simply a way to ensure an optimal, distraction-free opportunity for kids to do their best work. It’s a consideration, not a restriction.
- Plugged in. Some kids claim that they do better with music in their ears, and while I have my doubts and reservations, I am trusting them to know best what they need. The proof will be in the performance.
- Phones out—during their brain break. My cellphone policy hinges on my promise to give the kids a 3-minute brain break every day, even on performance opp. days. A promise is a promise. So, the kids took their 3 minutes when they chose. I can’t build trust if I don’t give them opportunities to be trustworthy.
- No Time. Though nearly all finished, a few each period needed extended time, so I let them take the PO home. It’s all about their demonstrating their abilities against the standard. I want them to have what they need to do their best. If that’s time, it is an easy give. I suppose they could con someone into doing it for them, but really, in the end, it serves no purpose. It won’t affect their grade, only their learning. I have to trust.
Of course, I have more “random” running through my brain that I will capture and share another time, but for now, I’m out of time. Gotta get ready to provide opportunity and peddle possibility. The journey continues.
Happy Thursday, all.