Accounting for change

After looking back at previous posts about community engagement, curriculum, teaching, and grading and assessment, I want to publish a short to do list for myself this year as a way of holding myself accountable for continued change in my classroom practice. To complement the list, I’ll maintain a Google Doc score card shared with everybody.

  1. Hold daily class meetings.
  2. Provide daily self-dircted learning time.
  3. Provide daily opportunities for self-assessment..
  4. Provide daily teacher feedback.
  5. Provide weekly or biweekly opportunities for peer feedback.
  6. Provide weekly or biweekly opportunities for mentor feedback.
  7. Negotiate content, process, and products with students.
  8. Negotiate paperless portfolios and records with students.
  9. Use social media to push our work into the world and bring parents into the school.
  10. Undertake community-based project-based learning.

While these are my goals for reforming classroom practice, I’ll also be working in school development part-time to help us all further our relationships and use of inquiry, differentiation, and arts-infused curriculum and project-based learning. I have some other areas of responsibility, as well, such as community engagement, that relate to my teaching goals. I know my work outside the classroom will inform and enrich how I teach and learn and write and imagine.

Kristen Wray’s Our Journey of Learning has reminded me that this will be year three with my 8th graders. I’ve taught them all since they were in the 6th grade, sometimes in language arts class, some times in social studies, and sometimes in more broadly conceived humanities and lower-case project-based learning classes. I’ve been their head teacher; I’m about to begin work in school development for the little start-up they’ve helped shape and are about to leave.

I found my better teaching self last year, but that doesn’t mean I’ve found away to help each and every child feel safe, happy, and engaged at school. I’m kind of amazed and thankful to have the opportunity to try again.

Here are the most important things that looping has taught me:

  • If I haven’t take responsibility for relationships in the classroom, then I haven’t take responsibility for teaching and learning.
  • We are much closer to producing excellent work based on passionate learning than we are to “achieving” excellent test scores based on standardized learning.
  • Trust isn’t a currency, it’s a way of life, and it shouldn’t be spent coercing students.
  • Each day is an opportunity for me to let go of another preconception that’s getting in the way of relationships and learning in my classroom.
  • Teaching and learning are not a battle. I shouldn’t choose my battles with kids; I should choose not to battle. Community-building and negotiation about what we want to do – not what we’ll get – drive learning much more effectively than behavioral management does.

What have you learned from looping?

How will you reform your classroom practice this year?

Help re-imagine what it is that schools do.

  1. Thanks, Chad. Great reflections on looping! I’m looking forward to taking that advice in advance. I also love the list to hold you accountable. I’m going to do the same! What about having our students create their own accountability “list” as we begin this year? Not exactly hopes and dreams, but more of a focus on goals… This is the start of self-evaluation/reflection! We should all pull them out and assess ourselves on how we are doing as the year progresses. Student led conferences, self-evaluation, and our first expedition are big on my list.

    • Student-led conferences are great; I always struggled with providing students with enough practice and prep time, though. The more the better, it seemed.

      I think the major accountability factor for my classes will be the quality of our community. Certainly projects and daily work will carry more individualized self-assessment. I’m a big fan of negotiating expectations with students and letting them take the initiative in defining excellence.

      I really look forward to following your blog this year -

      All the best,

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