When you know better, you do better – right? I wish it was as simple as that. Change is hard. Being on the front end of change is even harder. We are in the midst of a gigantic pendulum swing in education, and in the process redefining our entire pedagogy. And if that weren’t a challenge enough, we are constantly being reminded that this new educational system is to prepare our students to be successful in a world we cannot envision.
So it is easy to understand why teachers would want to opt out of this swing. It is thrill-ride level to be certain. I want to say I am “all in” because in my heart and mind I AM. That is the easy part. The rough part is living it on the daily, trusting the process, being open to mistakes and risking failure. There is so much at stake here. I teach in a high poverty school. Most of my students are already 2-3 years behind. If I blow this, it is unforgivable, unfixable. On the other hand, that is the very reason I MUST proceed with Project Based Learning, Genius Hour, STEAM challenges, individualized learning.
Now the first semester is over, so it is reflection time – that “Come to Jesus” moment when grades (d0n’t get me started) have to be assigned. How are we doing? Where are we at? CAN THEY READ? The answer is that we are all making progress, and I am trying to provide “standards-based” grades to reflect that. There is definitely frustration in the process. They haven’t done “standardized assignments”. I am still trying to figure out how to walk on both sides of this fence. It is hard to create the neat data tables that governing entities want to see.
My students and their caregivers need to see growth beyond grades, however. That is the true measure. That is what I want my students to focus on, because they have worked so hard. They need to know what their challenges are but also their successes so they can persevere with joy.