Well, it is unlikely that P-180 will lead to an ideal world. But it may very well lead to ideas for a better world–at least in education. And though it would be folly to suggest that it would be a significantly better world, it is possible that it may be a little better. In the glacier that is education, any movement is movement, and movement is progress. In education, we’ll take what we can get. For we have moved little in a century. Glacial indeed.
The P-180 classroom relies heavily upon feedback to drive progress, to drive learning, for there are no grades. It is at the center of my interactions with kids. And it has certainly been at the center of my recent and continuing conferences with them, as I give them feedback on their performances. And while this feedback will help them, “empower them” on the upcoming SBA and/or placement test for those seeking the Running Start option at EWU, there is something bigger at play here. Growth requires feedback. No feedback. No growth. But kids–heck, people–do not always readily or eagerly accept this, for it requires judgment. And, thus, we are reluctant to cozy up to feedback; in truth, we tend to avoid it.
If nothing else happens in my 180 classroom this year, my greatest hope is that kids learn to seek and value feedback as a vital component for learning. I hope in the absence of grades, they come to learn that grades are neither always the best motivator for nor always the best indicator of learning. I hope they see this. I hope they demand this from their teachers moving forward. That is empowerment. They have not only the right but also the responsibility to demand feedback from their teachers. Grades alone don’t cut it. If there is no feedback, if there is no opportunity to apply new understanding, then there is no learning. Anyone can give a grade. Grading does not make the teacher. Feedback is what separates the effective from the ineffective. We have to give our kids actionable feedback if they are to learn. The absence of grades has opened my eyes to the power that feedback has in learning. And, even if I ultimately swing back to a standards-based approach, I will carry with me what matters, what has to be the focus: feedback. There is nothing else.
Happy Monday, all.