Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Important Discussion on Rigor

Recently, our Instructional Leadership Team has been engaged with some provocative questions centered on rigor. One such impromptu conversation occurred last Tuesday afternoon. Here is what one of my colleagues and mentors had to say:

Good morning, all!

Yesterday was a very lively meeting day. It is obvious from the discussion that we are all passionate about what we do! I believe that our meeting veered off on a tangent yesterday that opened topics that were not on our agenda to be discussed and that could not, because of time constraints, be thoroughly discussed or examined. What began with an observation that some students are traveling from class to class in the same groupings and that, in some cases, this is affecting their ability to be successful in class….became a conversation about the challenge level in on-level and adv. level classes.

I would like to reflect more on the article RIGOR ON TRIAL ….which all of us read and discussed this summer. I suggest that it is no wonder that our faculty is having difficulty in understanding what RIGOR is all about when we, the ILT are still unsure ourselves. According to the article, Rigor means preparing students for their work places of tomorrow, for the responsibilities of citizenship and for the understanding that it is through continuous learning that they will be prepared for tomorrow’s world. It means meeting the student where they are and challenging them to raise their skills and abilities to higher levels.

One will find RIGOR in an on-level English class, for example, when students understand the importance of what they are learning, are analyzing (literary and informative) ‘data’, assessing information that they have researched for its validity and importance, and participating with one another in frequent student discourse in order to solve problems together. (All of which are demanded as a part of the curriculum.) Strategies and skills that students need for this kind of academic (as well as social) success need to be taught, learned and refined no matter what level or content. Differentiation, scaffolding and appropriate textual selections need to be inserted into the class in order for students to be successful.

The article says that even AP classes can be RIGORLESS if students cannot answer the SEVEN QUESTIONS:

1. What is the purpose of this lesson?

2. Why is it important to learn?

3. In what ways am I challenged to think in this lesson?

4. How will I apply, assess or communicate what I’ve learned?

5. How will I know how good my work is and how I can improve it?

6. Do I feel respected by other students in the class?

7. Do I feel respected by the teacher in this class?

I suggest that we address the question that was raised as to why students travel in groups. Then, we do some individualized scheduling that takes into account the data ( and needs) for each of the students. I think we need to be reminded of the importance of using the BIN during meetings to recognize the importance of the topic and the need to address it at a later time. Most importantly, I suggest that we strongly encourage RIGOR in the classroom throughout all levels and in all contents.

Finally, as a senior member of the group, I do not have a problem with raising my hand in order to be identified as someone who has something to add to the conversation. Although I have been doing it since elementary school, this method has served me well throughout the years. Often, by waiting my ‘turn’ to speak, I have been able to listen to additional speakers’ messages and refine what it is that I want to add to discussion.

Thank you for this opportunity to express further thoughts …..”HAVING MY SAY”…..(based on HAVING OUR SAY, a very good 6th grade English core book! J!)

Enjoy your day!

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