No Regrets

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The end of the year is fast approaching, which prompts continual reflection for me. I can honestly say I have no regrets. I wouldn’t change anything, I would only make adjustments. 

Standards Based Grading

Provide a rubric and explanation of the standards for parents in terms they can understand. 

Grading 

Incorporate the observation rubric more. Less papers you have to grade for formative assignments (required by district). 

Assessments

Emphasize backwards design. This will help determine what needs to be emphasized “instructionally” and what does not. This will also help me balance conceptual understanding with procedural fluency. 

Mastery Assessments

Have 3 options for demonstration of understanding. Make it quick (use of technology), concise and manageable (this I’m still thinking through). 

Practice

Incorporate more of it. Think of building conceptual understanding and practice like tasty lemonade, it has to have the right blend of lemonade flavor, sugar and water. Conceptual understanding, problem solving and practice or procedural fluency. 

Community Circle

Be more consistent and don’t be afraid to try with all classes. 

Small Groups

Don’t get stuck on having accountability pieces. 
Always remember we are teaching mathematics so it can be applied outside of the school setting as well. We are developing thinkers and problem solvers. Students (and parents) may be resistant in the beginning, which could be due to their inability to see the big picture. We must still push on, plant the seeds and water our crops. Teach without regrets, reflect and make adjustments. 
This post dedicated to Pam White. 

If You’re Reading This, It Is Already Too Late

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If you’re reading this, it it already too late.  I have already begun to instill confidence in my students.  They, not I, have worked hard to develop their understanding of the 7th grade math concepts.  Even with a shaky foundation, they press forward through the productive struggle and have celebrated each milestone they have surpassed.  This cannot be contributed to superficial coverage of material to stay within some arbitrary deadlines of feeding information.  This comes from what people preach but very rarely practice, meeting the students’ needs.

No we haven’t spent weeks on the same topic and so we got behind, that’s way we implement small groups.  We’ve spent quality time building conceptual understanding, practicing the skill and applying the skill within contextual situations.  And yes, this takes time as any sustainable change does.

Many are pushing personalized learning, which is a complete joke when you say, “Everyone must be at this point in their understanding at this point in time”.  You cannot in one breath say, “Do what is best for your students”, then pigeon hold them to your time constraints.

So yes, it is too late.  My kids have already pleaded with me about not knowing what’s on your test.  I have walked around and watch students completely give up on trying because you are expecting them to show what they know about content which is currently foreign to them.  I’ve comforted a student who drew a line through his answer document as his confidence plummeted as he said to me, “I can’t pass this, I don’t know any of this.”  That’s not because he is not smart or because he is incapable of passing.  It is simply because we have not gotten to that content yet.

There has to be a better way.  We formatively assess but make it evaluative.  We push for personalize learning, but imply students must be at the same place at the same time in their learning.  We talk about student progress, but rank schools based on achievement, not growth.  And through all this students struggle to build resilience with a content it has become commonplace for people to say, “I’m not good at math or I’m not a math person”.

I almost didn’t post this.  But if you’re reading this, it is already too late.