Assessing students is a serious business and the better we get at it, the more students get out of it, enabling them to start doing it for themselves becoming more independent learners. We simply can't value things like "USB- remains in class" when it comes to assessing learning.
Learning is an on-going process and it seems inadequate and arbitrary to try to label learning along the way when it looks so different for so many students. But since many of us are in the situation that does require grades, we must make sure students and parents aren't surprised when progress reports or report cards come. Even if your comments are pre-written, make sure to provide meaningful comments to aid in understanding the snapshot you are providing.
Although connecting is a big part of why we write publicly, it isn't the only thing. We blog to connect with ourselves and our experiences. So it's okay if you don't get a lot of readers at first (I know I didn't). It took a lot of effort of putting myself out there to attract people to my blog. I changed the theme, and restructured my personal time so that I could dial into the community consciously. It was an effort.
As teachers, when we are called away to meetings, especially of the unexpected variety, with little time to plan for the loss, we need to have protocols in place in our classrooms that inspire and encourage students to use the independent substitute time to continue their learning.
If we are ever going to accomplish the great things that need to be done in education or anywhere for that matter, we must fearlessly put ourselves out there for the better good. Forcing ourselves out of our comfort zones, we are pushed to pursue the greatest versions of ourselves and continuously grow. Where does your comfort zone end and what can you do tomorrow to go past it?
Long Island City High School student, Giselle Galindo shares how robotics helped her want to stay in school, opening her up to a whole world of learning she didn't even know she was interested in. Programs like the one Giselle describes are instrumental in keeping our students in school and excited about learning. Read about Giselle's love of robotics.
Report cards were a solution once that probably made some form of communication easier. However, the kind of communication it fosters sends the wrong message about what learning should be. As we shift the mindset about learning, we also have be mindful about the sub-conscious messages we send systemically about what learning actually is.
One piece of advice I routinely get, that I understand on an intellectual level, is that change takes time and to not be too hard on myself. I've been working on loosening my expectations of myself and others in a more realistic way.
Imagine a classroom of kids, engaged in writing because they like it; they want to do it. No more sighs and audible "ahs" when it comes time to blog. It's easy and it's fun and best of all, it doesn't feel like learning, but it is.
Running around all the time has its purpose, but sometimes a real vacation from it all is necessary to just catch up on sleep. So give yourself permission to take a break and if you can't give it to yourself, take a permission slip from me.