I have had the privilege of coaching teachers and administrators throughout our district for two and a half years, and by far the most frequent question that I have heard lately is around documenting, reporting, and communicating about learner behaviors without tying them to the letter or standards-based grade. I’ve been challenged with this because as a classroom teacher, I had a “participation” grade for all my big projects. I worked with my students on the social-emotional skills and I recorded them as part of their overall progress because I felt strongly that learner behaviors needed to be considered in the formal documentation process. However, the cultural shift away from this trend in LUSD has inspired me to think very differently on the subject.
The idea that comes to mind is this: What is the purpose of the letter/standards-based grade? I propose that it is to capture the academic skills associated to content and standards we teach.
The next idea that comes to mind is this: If learner behaviors aren’t academic in nature, how/where/when can I hold my kids accountable and keep parents informed? And then, how do I get the kids to care about the learner behaviors if there isn’t a grade attached to them? We can always keep track of these behaviors with star charts, letters/emails home, comments, parent conferences, and one-on-one conversations with the kids, but in the end we crave a structured system of accountability for these learner behaviors, and I have an idea to consider.
What if you designed a system where you set out mini-goals for student behaviors that you wish to see repeated? Here are a few qualities I valued in the classroom:
The list could go on and on. What if you then took that system and showcased it to kids on a regular basis so that they could keep track of their own progress? What if you displayed this information on your website or asked each student to display this information in a portfolio – printed or digital? What if parents saw these mini-goals being met (or not met) and now had talking points with their kiddos on the why’s and why not’s of their learner behavior choices?
These are questions I have been pondering for my time here at LUSD and I know most of you have too because we are teachers who value social-emotional intelligence as much as, if not more than, the intellectual intelligence of our students. After all, the students are who and what we get up for each day.
So, I am going to break this down a bit more clearly…
Google Apps (Drawings, Slides, Sites, Sheets, Forms)