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The Voices Within: Project 180, September 24, 2016


Morning, all. Here are the comments the kids left me this week. As long as their remarks were appropriate and generally relevant, I promised to publish them. I am going to call these posts “The Voices Within,” because that is how I want them to be regarded. As the true inside participants in P-180, the students have a unique, important perspective, and I want their voices to be heard. My initial thinking was to simply present their comments, but then, later, I decided I would provide a response to each. Their comments are in bold. Anonymous is not one person. As far as I know, each is a different student, but I will refer to all as “Anonymous.” The comments with identified names are done with permission by the individual. My comments are in regular text.

Next week, because most of the kids don’t read my blog, I will provide a hard copy of the comments and responses so all the kids can see, talk about, and reflect on the words of their peers. I hope my doing so will encourage even more of them to participate in this important dialogue.

I love this new system, it makes learning much more fun and relaxed, but I am not the biggest fan of the essay of the week. I love the idea, but it would perhaps be better if they were assigned about mid-week, and we had the weekend to work on it. –Anonymous

Anonymous, hopefully the new Friday-to-Friday approach helps with the EOW. Glad you are generally enjoying the new system.

I think it’s a good idea personally, but there’s gonna be people who take advantage of it. –Kelsey

Kelsey, sadly, you are probably right that some will take advantage. Glad you aren’t.

In my opinion, having the A is a great idea; however, it takes great deal of discipline for me to actually do my homework/assignments. I already have the A, so why do the work. I have to constantly think about growing and that’s what motivates me to do the work. –Lily

Lily, glad that YOU are discovering your OWN motivation. Really, isn’t that the only true motivation there is?

The essays of the week will help increase my writing abilities; however, one essay every week will be hard to juggle because of my other classes require homework every night. By Thursday, I am extremely tired and beat. –Anonymous

Anonymous, hopefully you also find the Friday-to-Friday approach helpful.

Syrie is a really cool guy. He’s very relaxed, but at the same time, we get stuff done. Project 180 is a grand idea (although maybe it should include 180 Skittles). I can make a mistake in class and learn from it and not feel bad. Learning happens in classroom 211. –Elliot

Elliot, thanks for appreciated but unnecessary kudos. I will work on the Skittles. Glad you aren’t worried about making mistakes.

I think this class is great. I get to read and mess around but also get stuff done. –Anonymous

Anonymous, sounds like you have found some balance.

This class has been educational and philosophical. It’s made me think about my actions. –Anonymous

Anonymous, glad you are thinking. Nothing wrong with that.

My emotions play a big part in this class because of QUESTions. A day ago I wanted to cry because we were talking about injustice about #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement and it just really pains me that I couldn’t HONESTLY express what I thought and no one will understand me.–Anonymous

Anonymous, I find this deeply troubling, I wish I had a little more context and clarity with your situation. I wonder why you felt that you could not honestly express your thinking. Please consider talking to me about this personally, so I can better understand and help. I am not okay with your feeling this way. I promise to protect your anonymity.

Great class. Love expressing my literature. –Anonymous

Anonymous, love that you love it.

What’s odd about Project 180 is that the class homework is still rather stressful. We get an essay every week, a story to annotate weekly, and every two weeks we have to write a story about our learning, but every day we just talk in class about why we do P-180. I am not complaining, But as a high achieving student, I want to do all of the work to make sure I don’t walk out of this class at the end of the year with nothing new. Therefore, I end up stressing over it nonetheless. I love the practice, but I do not think I will end up doing it all. This class has taken a load off my back already by letting me focus on the other AP/Honors classes I have signed up for. All in all, I love the “auto-A” set up, even if it still comes with some stress. 

While P-180 makes it easy to pass, it still has a negative that may not have been brought up yet. In the grade book, seeing an A means you are doing well and will most likely pass any exams, but with Project 180, it takes away that safety feeling. We don’t know how well we are doing altogether anymore. Not just individual assignment feedback, but all of it. I no longer know if I would actually pass a state test. –Anonymous

Anonymous, I lost a little sleep over this one. First, I hear and appreciate your thoughtful, valid concerns. Second, I would like a chance to set your mind at ease with the following considerations.

  1. It’s early. We are only 17 days in, and I know that we have been slow to get to the meat of things in the curriculum, but I am doing that by design. I really feel the need to create culture and build community around the principles of 180 before we charge too far down the path. The “tougher” stuff, if you will, is on the way, and what I hope you find is that I have been leading you there all along, and also, I hope you find that how we have been doing it makes a little more sense once we are there.
  2. I hope, too, that as we move farther down the path, you experience less stress in the present and worry less about your being prepared for the future. Please know that I care deeply about your future, and I will do all that I can in the short amount of time that we have to get you where you need to be by year’s end. Maybe talking with some juniors who are in AP this year about how prepared they felt after my class last year would be of benefit.
  3. I understand your concern about the state test at the end of the year. It is high stakes, but I would ask you to trust that I will help put you in a position for success when it comes. Last year, 93% of my honors students passed rather easily. I expect no less for you and your classmates. In fact, I expect all to pass this year. Anything but, will be hard for me to swallow.

Please know how much I value your feedback. I am thankful that you had the courage to share your important concerns with me. This type of feedback helps me grow. Thank you.

I love it! It’s a great way to turn education upside down because grades are put aside and teachers can get their students to have a different mindset about homework, which is, homework is just practice to help you learn, not just something you turn in to get a good grade. –Vivian

Vivian, love that y0u are seeing practice in a different light; this is exactly how I want you to see it.

“So, what’s next?”  This is the question you asked me after my success with writing an effective hook. This simple, yet challenging question has given me an opportunity. I can take this question and treat it like every other teacher’s comments, or I can do something with it. The fact is, I have never gotten a comment from a teacher that is this meaningful. This single question is my motivation to show you that I can do more. So now, I will sit down and write more hooks. I will not settle for one good hook type, but seventeen good hook types, and every time I am successful, I will ask myself, “So, what’s next?” –Haley

Haley, I could not be more pleased by what you have done with my simple question, especially in the context of Project 180. You already have an A; you can already produce an effective hook; but instead of resting on this stage of your success, you have found an opportunity to build upon it. That, my young friend, is what growth is all about. So glad you discovered the true intent of my feedback. Bravo.


One Reply to “The Voices Within: Project 180, September 24, 2016”

  • This is so insightful for all who gave feedback and who received your comments in return. Their voices were heard in a way that was comfortable to them.

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