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It’s a Revolution, I Suppose: Project 180, Day 49

“I raise my flags, don my clothes
It’s a revolution, I suppose
We’ll paint it red to fit right in

…All systems go, the sun hasn’t died
Deep in my bones, straight from inside

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive”

–“Radioactive,” Imagine Dragons


Yesterday, three-hundred sophomores at Cheney High School selected and supported their mid-term ELA grades. The sky did not fall. The world did not stop spinning. And the sun did not die.

But. Three-hundred kids put a stamp on their learning. Their learning. They exercised their freedom and owned their responsibility, which we granted them forty-seven days earlier when they crossed the threshold of our classrooms. And in their first opportunity to exercise the agency we gave them, they made their first step forward into official ownership, discovering that we were true to our promise that they held the keys, that they were drivers. And though I can only speak directly to the one-hundred-twenty-eight drivers in room 211, they owned it responsibly, making solid, evidence-based cases for their self-selected grades. There was not once upon my entering the grades into the system that I felt a kid had made any gross inaccuracies or unfair assessments of his or her learning. I was both confident and comfortable with their choices. They did not take advantage of my trust. They took advantage of their opportunity to own it.

And next Monday, when the midterm report cards arrive home in the mail, there will be at least one mark on the sheet that they fully understand, that they can fully explain. But I am not sure that can be said with certainty for the five other marks on the page. For “my marks,” I want them to feel that it was something that was done with them. I fear for too many of the other marks that they will feel like it was something that was done to them. There’s a difference. I want my kids to feel we are engaged in a partnership with their learning, a shared experience, a shared responsibility. And I believe that feeling of engagement is achieved through ownership. Conversely, I think a lack of ownership, a feeling of “this is something that is being done to me,” a feeling of “I have no control over situation,” leads to disengaged, disenfranchised kids.

And I think we can change that. I “feel it in my bones, enough to make my systems blow.” But it takes courage. We have to believe that there are different ways, there are better ways. There were roughly seventy-eight-hundred grades entered into the system at CHS yesterday. Seventy-eight-hundred stories told. Stories. Stories about learning. And stories have power. But there is a tenuous line that divides the power to harm and the power to help. As the thirteen-hundred kids at CHS look ahead to the next nine weeks, I wonder how they read their stories; I wonder how they imagine their next chapters. Hard to know. But I have to imagine that there are three-hundred kids who feel like they may have some say in how those stories will end, for they hold the pen. And a day later, it seems that all is still well in the world. The sun hasn’t died.

Today’s Trail

Along today’s trail we will…

…begin with Smiles and Frowns.

…take a theme performance.

…reflect in Journey Journals.

…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme.

Happy Thursday, all. Have a great three-day weekend.

Do. Reflect. Do Better.


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