What Grade Would Your Students Give You?

From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks (April 2017 Newsletter):

Grades are a necessary part of traditional education. But what purpose do grades serve?

  • Administrators use the grades for tracking requirements for promotion and graduation, as well as ranking students.
  • Teachers use grades to give students feedback about their progress and achievement.
  • Counselors use grades to provide guidance about pursuing other courses and career objectives.
  • Grades provide teachers feedback for instructional planning.
  • For students, grades can be motivational.

Grades are a way to establish accountability for student achievement. Accountability is only valid if all parties involved agree about individual or organizational responsibilities, the criteria being used to assess achievement, and the consequences for the outcome. All parties, for me, include Administrator, Teacher, Parent, Student, and Government (district, state, federal). My purpose in this article is to focus on the accountability between teachers and students.

Teachers, you put a great deal of planning into meeting the standards and learning goals for each class, including what % of the grade will be based upon tests and how much weight to assign to homework. You try to create a fair and objective assessment of what each student has learned in your class. Did they learn what you set out to teach them? Are they ready for the next level? With success or failure, how much responsibility belongs with the teacher, and how much belongs with the student? In my classes, I always asked students what grade they thought they deserved and how they determined it. Those discussions became the basis for wonderful performance conversations, as well as a chance to review the course material.

The truth is that grades are also a reflection of a teacher’s performance and how well you facilitated the […]

By | April 24th, 2017|Congruence, Education, Teacher|0 Comments

Can we talk??

From Our Executive Director, Jacqueline Hicks (March 2017 Newsletter):

One of the things teachers identify as a reason for leaving their profession is that they don’t feel supported by their administrator/principal. I choose to interpret this as a need for relationship – a better relationship between the Leader and his/her Followers. (Check out our ‘10 Things Principals Don’t Tell Their Teachers But Should’ blog post. )

I am remembering my experiences as both teacher (follower) and administrator (leader), and I can share how I felt in both roles. As a teacher, I wanted my boss to support me in fulfilling the agreements of my teaching contract and allow me to participate and contribute my gifts. I wanted confirmation about the things I was doing well, and help with the things that were challenging. As the administrator, I wanted my teachers to enthusiastically embrace my vision and help me realize my goals for our students. I wanted partners who would let me know when they thought I was veering off track, and who would add their efforts and ideas to our joint success. I wanted relationships with colleagues who would be responsible and hold me accountable. In my conversations with other teachers and other administrators, they have expressed desires for a similar kind of rapport.

Unfortunately, I found the opportunities to discuss, reflect and improve upon our joint efforts were few and far between. Both as teacher and administrator, the lack of opportunities was disheartening. It wasn’t just lack of time, but also lack of courage and, more importantly, lack of skill. It felt risky to attempt to have conversations about my and other people’s performances. It seemed to me that not only did my colleagues find speaking […]

By | March 22nd, 2017|Adminstrators, Congruence, Empathy, PCA, Teacher|0 Comments

Let Students Make Mistakes! by Serena Pariser

Making Mistakes Represents a Critical Element of Comprehensive Learning —Let Students Make Mistakes

Can you think of a time in school when you made a mistake? Was it a learning experience or just humiliating? The title of this blog may make some of you cringe, recalling some of your biggest mistakes in your own classroom experiences. Allowing for mistakes to be made is much different from how many of us were taught growing up. A friend once told me of a horrifying memory in 5th grade when she raised her hand to answer a question, incorrectly, and had to suffer the embarrassing laughter of her classmates. She remains fearful of raising her hand in a class-like setting to this day. Mistakes, handled improperly, can be scarring.

The flip side is that mistakes can also, should also, be opportunities to strengthen and empower students. When I say mistakes, I of course don’t mean letting them get the answer on a math problem wrong and telling them “good job”. Give your students a non-judgmental forum for trial and error.

Making an attempt at active participation should always be encouraged, and it is in the students’ trying where much of the learning happens. Let them feel safe and confident enough to leap knowing they may indeed fall. You’ll be surprised at how much student engagement and interaction will soar once they realize that nobody is going to laugh or be angry with them, including the teacher, if they get the answer incorrect.

How to make your classroom a safe-zone for making mistakes:

  • Teach your class that mistakes are part of learning. (You may wish to reference one of Thomas A. Edison’s more famous quotes: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 […]
By | January 7th, 2015|Congruence, Education, Empathy, Teacher|1 Comment