Meeting Goals, Part 3 of 3

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In our first and second posts in this series on Meeting Goals, we lasered in on the first four hours of an agenda with a group of newly-hired principals. In this last post, we share our intentions for the afternoon’s learning.

After lunch is a complicated time to teach K-12 students. I venture it can be downright dangerous to work with adults after lunch! Using a kinesthetic experience with high engagement and interest (of course, with a clear connection and purpose to the agenda) is a standard practice in many of our day-long agendas.

As we thought about this first day, including an experience with significant stress relief seemed important. Although it was still early in the year, these principals had been working at their schools for two months. Many of them had experienced radical life and family changes as a result of their new position.

During the debrief of Balloon Bounce, we made connections to not only how we are prioritizing certain pieces of our work (the earlier rank ordering during the morning session), but also helping staff to prioritize. The last round proved to be an opportune time to discuss the peril of doing all the work of school improvement by yourself.

Be sure to read the “What Happened” column in Table 7.
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A Time To Be Wary Graphic

A Time to Be Wary

Categories: Assessment, Authors, Instruction

“Incessant testing and grading and criticism keep you in a chronic probationary state that breeds low self-esteem.”
–James Moffett & Betty Jane Wagner, Student-Centered Language Arts K-12

Based on The Student-Centered Classroom

We should be concerned about the many students who have been categorized as “behind” because of “COVID learning loss.” The words educators use to describe students have an enormous impact on how they see themselves. Fall 2021 is a time like no other in recent history when we can lift up students or limit them based on how they were able to navigate an unforeseen and incredibly challenging year of education. This is a time when rigid adherence to standardized testing policies and grading practices could have a lasting negative impact on how our students see themselves and on the role they expect school to play in their lives. 

Evaluate each student’s unique progress toward achievement of learning goals

Think about a student who has stayed engaged with learning and grown intellectually and emotionally in consequence. Think about a student who has used this increasingly mature sense of understanding to help siblings and friends engage in learning. Think about this same student receiving grades of C and D. Educators need to read between the lines. This is a time when it is crucial to get to know each student as a whole person and to evaluate each student’s unique progress toward the achievement of important learning goals. If there was ever a time to be wary of standardized tests and averaged grades on one-size-fits-all assignments, this is that time. 

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How I learned in my summer vacation

How I Learned In My Summer Vacation

Categories: Authors, Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

Years ago, it wasn’t unusual for the teacher to assign the usual “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay to welcome back students to the classroom. Teachers Pay Teachers (a website I would never recommend) has nearly 458 activities that incorporate the “summer vacation” theme. There are thousands of “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” images available on Google for teachers to download, print, and give to their students. “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” appears to be a part of an academic rite of summer passage.

However, the iconic “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” writing activity is not morally, nor culturally sensitive. There was a time when teachers used the traditional writing assignment to get to know their students’ interests and family hobbies. There was an assumption, albeit misguided, that most students and their families vacationed in the lovely Adirondacks or students attended neighborhood play dates with Dick and Jane or students took part in “up north” camps.

Simply put, the assignment no longer reflects our society or what it might define.

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A visual representation of virtual student learning

Relationships: First and Always

Categories: Instruction, Pandemic Response and Educational Practices, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

In the spring of 2020, I published my very first book, I’m Listening: How Teacher-Student Relationships Improve Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening in which I poured everything I knew about teaching and learning.

And Then, The Pandemic
Suddenly, everything I wrote in this book seemed wholly inadequate for the emerging challenge of teaching during a pandemic. The pile of my newly printed books remained untouched, as instead teachers (including me) searched for books and articles that promised best practices and solutions for virtual learning. As an instructional coach for grades 6-12, I immersed myself in tutorials for digital tools that held the promise of perhaps an easier yet still productive school year for our students and teachers.

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Research Based Learning: a Lifelong Learning Necessity

Categories: Authors, Instruction, Literacy, Student Engagement

 

“Give a person a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a person to fish and she will eat for a lifetime.”
– Adapted from a saying by an unknown author

What is Research-Based Learning?
Research-based learning (RBL) consists of a framework that helps to prepare students to be lifelong inquirers and learners. The term “research,” which often conjures up a picture of students writing research reports, is here defined as a way of thinking about teaching and learning, a perspective, a paradigm. It is a specific approach to classroom teaching that places less emphasis on teacher-centered learning of content and facts and greater emphasis on students as active researchers.

In a research-based learning approach, students actively search for and then use multiple resources, materials, and texts in order to explore important, relevant, and interesting questions and challenges. They find, process, organize and evaluate information and ideas as they build reading skills and vocabulary. They learn how to read for understanding, form interpretations, develop and evaluate hypotheses, and think critically and creatively. They learn how to solve problems, challenges, and dilemmas. Finally, they develop communication skills through writing and discussion. Read more