So, I am trying to instill in my kiddos that their learning is a story. And for that I am trying to provide a script. Generally speaking, I am wary of scripts, for sometimes our “scripting kids” is more harmful than helpful, too often leading to their fixed mindsets about not only school but also themselves. But the following is a script that I can get behind. In fact, it is at the center of 180, and importantly, it is at the center of my own learning stories, both professional and personal.
Really, the script is pretty simple. Do. Learn. Do Better. If my kids can do this, can “write this,” then I am confident they are learning. So, intentionally, I create consistent opportunities for them to capture the chapters of their learning. Below is such an opportunity, which went along with their second learning log of the year, another page in their stories.
My Learning Stories #2 (9/24 – 10/6)
Topic: Learning Experiences in Room 211
Audience: Parents and Syrie
Purpose: Analyze and Interpret, Express and Reflect
Prompt: Select a learning focus for which you have received feedback from me on a specific practice activity. Analyze my feedback in relation to the criteria and your work, then complete the template below. Please attach the specific practice activity to your learning log.
What I did (briefly explain the assignment):
What I learned (summarize my feedback/suggestions for growth):
What I will do next time (explain how you will use my feedback to do better next time):
Essentially, the “Do” is what they did. The “Learn” is the feedback I provide. And the “Do Better” is the next time. Thus, “scripts” in hand, the kids set out to capture, to write their learning stories. They are due today, but as they began on Friday and came to me for guidance, three types of tales began to emerge.
Tale #1. These stories were the most common. The kids, as the prompt required, looked through their portfolios for evidence in the form of specific practice activities for which I had given feedback. For the most part, they were pretty straightforward and went something like this.
What I did (briefly explain the assignment): In the first essay of the week, I used a “Have-you-ever hook,” which Sy has now outlawed, so in the second EOW, I tried one of the 18 “legal” hooks he provided. This time, I used an anecdote.
What I learned (summarize my feedback/suggestions for growth): So, I got positive feedback on my hook type, but I forgot to bring it back in my conclusion, creating a full-circle effect. I got so focused on the beginning that I didn’t even think about revisiting my hook in the end.
What I will do next time (explain how you will use my feedback to do better next time): Next time I will do both. I will focus on the beginning, but I will also focus on the end. Glad there’s a next time (okay, doubt any kids will actually say this, but I hope they at least think it. 🙂 ).
Tale #2. These stories were less common, but there were more of them than I would have liked. These stories involved kids who had little or no practice with feedback. So, inevitably, discovering that they really had no story to tell, they came to me for help. I obliged, telling them that they had a story indeed; they just had to be honest. Their stories go something like this. And these stories may be even more important than the ones above.
What I did (briefly explain the assignment): I haven’t really done anything. I don’t really have any evidence to use as material for my story.
What I learned (summarize my feedback/suggestions for growth): I need to start doing more practice, so I can get feedback, so I can learn.
What I will do next time (explain how you will use my feedback to do better next time): I am going to start doing the EOW’s because I now see that Sy is using them as a way to give me feedback.
Tale #3. These stories were the least common. They involved kids who had essentially “met standard” on all that I had put in front of them. They, unlike those in the previous tale, had plenty of evidence; in fact they had all of it, so the first two parts were no problem. They were having a hard time with the “next time” part. So, I helped them.
What I did (briefly explain the assignment): I have done all the practice in this class.
What I learned (summarize my feedback/suggestions for growth): I have learned that so far I am pretty much on target with where Sy wants me to be.
What I will do next time (explain how you will use my feedback to do better next time): From here on, I will either find ways to challenge myself or work with Sy to find ways to take my learning further.
Different tales, yes, but all important in their own ways. I am excited to read their latest chapters. I hope as they become more experienced and comfortable with their authorship, they begin to see it as a critical component of their learning. I hope, too, that some other notions begin to sink in and set in their perceptions when it comes to the role of feedback in their learning. To that end, I placed the following propaganda in front them on Friday as well (see board above).
Feedback is the fuel of learning. Believe this from the bottom of my heart. I would even go on to suggest that without it, learning is not happening. So, if truly it is the fuel, I will continue to “feed” them. Pun intended. Can’t move forward if the vehicle won’t run. Gotta have fuel. I have a ready, rich supply.
Feedback is critical, not personal. Easier said than heard. Unfortunately, feedback is rarely warmly received, especially critical feedback. But critical feedback is…well, critical. I have to be able to be honest with kiddos about their performances against the established criteria. And so I am. I have to be. And that doesn’t always set well with them. So I work very hard to temper it. Fortunately, we have the growth-mindset anchor to fall back on, and I can rely on “yet.” As such, I used that word a fair amount as I gave the kids critical feedback on their pre-assessment practice this weekend. Unfortunately, despite my efforts to soften my judgment, some will still take it personally. But I hope as our journey continues, I am able to change their views on feedback; that they learn to trust the intent behind the words.
Happy Monday, all. Big week ahead. So proud of my kids. If P-180 achieves even a trace of success, I will owe it all to them. They rock.
- The Voices Within: Project 180, October 8, 2016
- When Our Past Catches Up With Us: Project 180, Special Post