Seek to understand. Discover truths. Create connections. These were the threads through our day yesterday. With grades off the table, one must take a different approach to motivate and move kids. Some days I find the right one. Other days I do not. Yesterday, I got lucky.
Seek to understand. This is an ever-present thread in my class, but yesterday it took on a bit of a different form as we worked on performance corrections. A correction is different from a retake. A correction cannot be used to demonstrate (proficiency, a 3), but it can be used as evidence of growth. If done correctly, I will change scores to a 2 (a near miss), but in order to get a 3, kids must do a full retake. Our process yesterday required them to not only find the right answer but also provide the “why.” I told them that while they could just copy or get the answers from a peer, that would buy them little, for they were not seeking to understand. They will be asked to perform against these standards again in the future, so there is a benefit to understanding, not just getting it done. So with that, the kids tackled the work differently than they might in a class that offers corrections as a way to improve a grade. They took their time, they poured over their notes, and when they came to me for help, they started with, “I wanna understand.” I wanna understand. Those are beautiful words. And from those words, we danced. Well, not really, but that’s what it felt like. We weren’t simply completing a transaction, we were digging into understanding, and I…I felt like a teacher.
Discover truths. We have our first discussion on Night today. Yesterday, I handed the kids a “truth ticket” for our discussion. I asked them to write their names and a truth they have discovered in Elie’s work. Today, they will hand me their tickets, and I will place them in a hat and draw them to use as guides for our discussion. I want them to “lead” our work here from the truths they find about the human experience. As I was explaining the process, I sensed some anxiety among my kids. And so, I paused. I iterated that my goal with the discussion was not to “catch kids” who’ve not read. I reminded them that reading the book is an option. If they choose not to read the book at this time, that’s fine. Of course I want them to, and I am moving forward as if they have, but I will not blame or shame if they do not. That said, I went on to explain, that if they have not read yet that they just need to write me a note on their truth ticket, letting me know. This is another kind of truth. The truth of ownership. If I come across such a ticket today, I will just quietly put it back and choose another, not calling attention to the kid. What I like about the format of our discussion around truths is that even the kids who have not read can still learn and make contributions, for they are “livers” of life, and they know something of such truths. My hope is that from our discussion my kids who are not reading may jump aboard and begin.
Create connections. Yesterday, we began our work of creating a new mantra for each class. I created the first mantra, our Mindset Mantra, but I want the kids to create their own. So we began the creative process yesterday, and though it started slowly, by the end, ideas were flowing, and the kids were getting excited about the work. It’s a bit messy–getting thirty kids to consensus is a chore, but we made progress. Our goal is to have our mantras ready to go by the time we come back from break. I’ll share when they are done.
Along today’s trail we will…
…begin with Smiles and Frowns.
…talk truths from Night.
…Reflect in our Journey Journals.
…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme.
Happy Thursday, all.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.