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Walking in Circles: Project 180, Day 37


This graphic caught my attention in the Twitterverse this morning, and while it doesn’t fit my thinking exactly, it’s pretty darn close, especially in the sense that learning is a circle, not a line. We have to give kids multiple opportunities to circle back to beginning, giving them not only another chance to prove proficiency, but also–maybe more importantly–another chance to apply new learning. This, I believe, is when growth occurs. But this takes time. Even more, it takes intentionality. The P-180 classroom relies on both.

Intentionality. This rests on the 10 Super-Student Standards, the year-long targets that provide the platform for all learning opportunities, both practice and performance. To be sure, the idea of power or focus standards is nothing new. But in a P-180 classroom, the difference might be in how they are used. In a 180 classroom, they are embedded and scaffolded, infused into all we do–ever present as they cycle, appearing again and again. The standards are selected with a full-view of the year ahead, guided not only by the Standards Du Jour (at present the Core) but also the experience and expertise of the classroom teacher. As I have said in the past, they are the 10 on which we will hang our hats at the end of the year, the 10 with which I, with confidence and evidence, will be able to say my kids have achieved proficiency.

And that is why learning has to be a circle. Thinking back over my years, where–regrettably–learning was more line than circle, I cannot say with much confidence that kids actually learned. Oh, they “learned” enough to get past the test, but I am not confident they “kept” that learning as we rushed into new content, covering as much as we could over the course of the year. Now with 180, I am focused on learning the content, not covering the content. And, yes, there will be some things that we do not get to, and that’s the cost, but there is always a cost. And that is where intentionality comes into play. I have been very intentional in my selection of standards, selecting what I believe will support the challenges that kids face not only now but also later. Of course, a part of being intentional is keeping track of one’s decisions, making sure he has made the right choices, which means I may have to make some changes along the way as I learn. But that fits, too. Do. Learn. Do Better.

Time. The P-180 classroom sets a slow pace. And this takes some getting used to. The problem with a slow pace is that it eats time, and I struggle with this. I worry more than I care to admit if I am taking too much time. I am conscious–very conscious–of the fact that 37 days in we have only had one assessment, and I frequently feel the urge to jump ahead as time disappears on the horizon. But I resist. I pause and reflect and find that while we are not passing by targets and tests like mileposts on a fast freeway, I have been able to provide a steady stream of feedback, way more feedback than I have ever provided at this point in any of my twenty years. And, then, I stop worrying. And, I also find a feeling, a feeling that I have never quite felt before, a feeling that my kids are learning, really learning, and that feels good, feels right. But I, maybe like my kids, have not reached a point where I fully trust my experiences with 180, and so I remain cautious; I remain hesitant to fully let go and trust my feelings. But with each passing day, it’s becoming easier to trust the path that lies ahead. I hope it’s getting easier for the kids, too.

Happy Friday, all.



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