Last week at the redefine team meeting, there was a lot of discussion about remediation and retakes. A lot of our assessment practices have changed this year, and it may be feeling a bit difficult at this moment, with final exams rapidly approaching, to balance curriculum, assessment, remediation, and reassessment.
Based on the feedback of this team, I created a list of Qs, and Chris and I collaborated to provide some As! This week, I will post 1 Q and 1 A each day since they are a little long!
If you have more Qs after reading, feel free to reply to the blog or email me! We definitely hear your concerns and frustrations and want to help make the end of term 2 successful for our students AND staff!
Q: I have been allowing my students to have flexible deadlines to turn in their work, and/or I have been accepting work “late” with virtually no penalty grade wise to the student. I am nervous about the end of the semester. Can I set a final “deadline” for all of this work to be submitted to me the Friday before final exams so that I have time to grade it all?
A from an administrator’s perspective: When it comes to school, there are variables and constants. When looking at time and learning, in order to keep one constant, the other needs to be variable. Students learn different ways and at different rates; this we all know. But when time is kept as the constant, then learning becomes the variable. When time is made the variable, the learning can become what is constant. In order to make the flexible deadlines work, thought then also needs to go into the planning of instructional decisions and the planning by PLCs. For example, in order to create time, there has to be a scope and sequence in place first to help identify what is most essential for students to learn. There are examples around this building of teams where “buffer days” are built into the sequence to create this opportunity for time not just to remediate, but also to have students who are ready for more to dig deeper. In the short-term, ask yourself those big macro level questions: what does a C, B, and A level student look like and need to know. Bringing the conversation back to skills and essential questions/concepts allows the ability to make those hard decisions on where a sequence can be truncated. In addition, it puts the emphasis back on the assessment and the student’s ability to perform rather than work completion. When looking at it through this lens, it empowers a PLC to make decisions and to create alternative ways for students to display learning.
A from a fellow teacher: My husband always jokes with me when I am threatening my children at home, “a good threat never hurt anyone”. I know, don’t judge me as a parent! As a teacher, I know that when I set deadlines, 90% of the kids are going to meet it. What I do with that other 10% is up to me professionally. You may think I am a softie, but I always try to err on the side of grace. If I set a deadline of Friday, and a kid brings me work on a Monday, I take it. It doesn’t benefit me at all to fail a kid who has done work but hasn’t turned it in on time (or by my “final” deadline). I understand that there are situations in life where there are hard deadlines, like paying your taxes, or finishing your GCN modules (which I completed on Nov 1 this year…again, don’t judge me). But, that is not one of my primary instructional goals as an English teacher. I appreciate when other people show me grace, compassion, and flexibility (like when I forget to submit eligibility…or when I get behind on this blog…or when I couldn’t find my son’s library book for 3 weeks because it was under my living room couch), and I want to do the same for my students.
Check back in for tomorrow’s Q and As: I have been allowing re-takes for important test/quizzes/papers/projects. But, the kids who need to do retakes are not coming in to do them. I am struggling with balancing remediation efforts and moving forward curricularly. What can I do to make the end of the semester run smoothly?
Thanks for reading!