A couple of weeks ago, our school participated in Instructional Rounds. Administration from our Central Office along with colleagues from nearby districts walked through a sample of our classrooms. Reading their comments / findings was interesting. 100% of teachers were doing something – working hard – teaching. 90% had agendas or I can… statements posted in their rooms. Students were doing what they were supposed to be doing – does this mean they were engaged or being compliant? 75% of questions being asked were in the bottom 2 levels of Blooms. That means 25% of what was observed was “rigorous”, I guess???
The following day we had PD – Rigor, Relevance & Congruent Tasks. We were asked to define Rigor…well, most of us felt Rigor was different for different students / tasks – but all agreed – it was just beyond the reach – some struggle may have to take place – not knowing something but making connections to what we can already do.
Using Etymology…where do these words come from?
Rigor “to be stiff” – does that mean, we may need to loosen up before we can actually accomplish a task? learn something? It may not be accomplished on our first try???
Relevance – congruity, appropriateness, agreement, pertinent to the matter at hand – okay I get that – are the tasks I’m choosing meaningful and do they lead to the standard I have chosen?
The presenter mentioned a professor from graduate school – I shuttered – it was the same professor in my very first education class. I even shuttered aloud – uhhhhhhh and the presenter laughed. Not good memories – I struggled in that course. It was not easy. But as I sat throughout the morning – I had vivid memories of lectures, activities and discussions. I remembered specific things from an Intro to Ed, Monday night-class 20+ years ago. Ask me about other Ed courses – I cannot say much. My last course before my semester of student teaching – we discussed a lot – student lead learning, research. But beyond those 2 courses in undergraduate, very little is recalled. But in both of the courses, my professors challenged me to think – they challenged my views / previous knowledge and experiences. I had a voice, they listened, they responded, usually with questions. I may not have understood it then. I certainly didn’t appreciate it then, but I now realize, I learned a lot under both professors.
In the past 3 years, I am realizing I am a guide. I am learning to listen to my students’ conversations. I am learning to ask questions beyond factual, yes/no levels. I can at least ask them what made them respond that way OR if they agree/disagree with a classmate.
Our discussions on rigor/relevance have really gotten me to thinking…wondering how I can improve, make learning worthwhile for my students.
A tweet from @AmberDCaldwell earlier this evening really resonated with me and my struggle to convince students,
I need all my students to read this! Student regrets getting high grades. A must read!! An A+ Student Regrets His Grades…
Again, a post from Emergent Math last month The Struggle for Productive Struggle – take time to read/listen to the NPR link he provides.
As I look through tasks from MARS, PARCC, Balanced Assessment, Illustrative Math – its obvious a classroom of 2 examples, practice these, check, quiz and move on to the next concept is not a prescription for success. I have wonderful students – but I don’t want them to do/think because I said so.
I want them to be able to think on their own, to feel challenged – yet without feeling a need to give up. I want them to feel comfortable asking questions, sharing their thoughts / ideas – even acknowledging their mistakes.
I want them to be able to listen to others’ ideas – and decide for themselves if they agree or not.
I want them to notice cool patterns in math – that its not just a bunch of worksheets and unrelated problems in a textbook.
I want them to recall things we discussed prior to this lesson because they developed an understanding deeper than just the surface.
I want them to be able to make those connections on their own (me only as a guide) and move forward.
I want them to be able to learn/be productive without me telling them when, what and how to do so.
I want them to value success because they’ve worked hard to earn it.
I want them to value learning – and realize “they are not defined by their GPA.”