I have guilty confession.  My son is tardy to school on a regular basis.  I can list the things we do to prevent this. When I am talking tardy, I am talking a few minutes late everyday.  As a teacher, I know better.  Those first few minutes are great times to connect and start the day on the right foot.  Now, no one harasses me about being late or makes D feel bad.  Instead, they know and care about my son.  They know that he has a curious and creative mind that slows him down when he is on his way to class.  I know that his principal often reminds him to keep moving quickly.

The reason I tell you this story is because I often made judgements about students who were tardy first thing in the morning.  I made assumptions about their parents.  I did make students feel uncomfortable about being late.  Of course, this was before children when I was the perfect parent.  My hypothetical children were always early.  Now, I know that I was horribly wrong. I really want to find these chronically tardy students and apologize.

I also share this story because of a conversation that happened during this week’s #EdBeat chat.  We talked about shadowing a student help us understand our student’s lives.  A suggestion was made that if we saw our student’s home life, we would not assign homework. Another teacher volunteered her home.

My take home message is be empathic.  Even teachers struggle with balancing working and parenting.  The expectation for quality work has skyrocketed in both areas.  Treat all student as if they were your child.  How would you want them treated?  How would you want to be treated?

So tonight, I will pack the lunches, lay out the school clothes, load the backpacks, prep breakfast, and tuck D into bed early in hopes that tomorrow my son will not be tardy. And if he is still tardy, then thank goodness my son does not have my former self as his teacher.



Providing Feedback to Goals

As you know, I have been committing to the gym. Of course, this is new learning for me.   I thought I was working hard.  I was sweating and tired.  The instructor would shout praise.  All of the signs I knew pointed to this fact.  I recently got fitted for a heart rate monitor and it gave me new information.

At my place, everyone’s heart rate is up on the screen and it turns a color based on your heart rate percentage and on another screen it tells you the exercise and the color you should be at.  On the first day, I thought I was pushing it really hard and I was not even close to where I should have been.  I then stepped up my effort.  The other awesome thing they add is an effort score and a goal for the end of the class.  At different points, the instructor would tell how to up our effort if our score was below a certain point.  During the end of the cool-down, several people were jumping rope to get the effort score needed.

I share this with you because the constant stream of feedback that tells where I am at and what my next step should be to accomplish the goal of the work.  I have taken charge of my workout and make self-adjustments to accomplish my goal.  This change moved in farther in physical health goals.

I also wonder how can we create classrooms where students know what is expected and how to achieve that goal.  I also want in these classrooms to be a place where students can look at their work and plan next steps, daily.  Teachers and students spend time giving feedback to each other.  The goal of this is for the student to own the learning.

How can we do this?

  • Create various forms of blended learning opportunities.    I have watched my son fall in love with the desire to move to the next level in Lexia.  It allows my son to learn skills that he is ready for.  The feedback is fast and provides additional support. The result is my son reads bedtime stories to me now.
  • Plan for high quality feedback.  We need to think about what are the important questions and what are the possible answers to that question.  Then knowing this make plans for how to give feedback for all of the answers.
  • Lead students to give each other feedback.  We are not born knowing how to give feedback.  Spend time teaching students how to do with the language of your class.  Analyze the feedback.
  • Communicate clearly how a student will know if he/she reached the goal and teach them how to analyze their own work.  Think about how this can happen.  The world is full of great ideas about this one.  This summer, I saw a great example of this when a first grader discussed where her writing fell on the rubric and what she needs to do next based on the rubric.

If we are not providing high quality feedback to all students, then we are not unleashing their full potential.