Badges, Learner Behaviors, Soft Skills

How Can You Capture Student Learner Behaviors Outside of the Report Card?

1607387I 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:

  • Good Listening
  • Risk Taking
  • Homework Completed
  • Honesty
  • Helpfulness
  • Volunteering
  • Coming Prepared to Class
  • Doing What You Say You’ll Do

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…

STEP 1: Identify the learner  behaviors you wish to see in your classroom.
(Click HERE to see some examples spelled out for you)
STEP 2: Design/Find your accountability platform.
Google Apps (Drawings, Slides, Sites, Sheets, Forms)
STEP 3: Celebrate each time a student meets an expectation. Focus on that which you want repeated, and support the others on their journey to the top!
I am a firm believer in figuring out the WHY before the WHAT because there are so many possible “whats” to choose from, but the “why” will be there to drive us the whole way. If positive learner behaviors, accountability, communication, and celebration are important to you, embrace this vision and start dreaming. Let’s work together to get an economy set up that matters to you, your students, and their parents so that we are truly preparing our kiddos for the real world out there.

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