I am sitting in my office in week 11 of Term1 listening to a Year 8 student across the corridor share his term 1 learning with his parents. This is instead of the teachers writing a long comment report. Why change what we always have done?
Authenticity is the catch cry of 21st Century education. How do we authentically communicate a student’s learning? Can we rely on past reporting models to authentically convey what, as educators we think is important?
This year we are piloting a new program in two of our Year 8 Core classes. Two teachers, team teaching 52 kids in a interdisciplinary way. Where key skills need to be taught and cannot be integrated, they are taught as a “skill upgrade”. All our outcomes are based on the Australian Curriculum and we have decided to use those guidelines to report on. Not the traditional – A- E scale , instead a continuum that reflects – towards satisfactory, at satisfactory and beyond satisfactory. This past few days have been filled with much angst as some responses from our community have been less than positive. Questions like “My child was an A student and now they are “beyond satisfactory” What does that mean? “He/she cannot be engaged in learning if they don’t have an”A” to strive for”?
As we move with these little steps, I believe our students will be better independent learners. Its very difficult to take the knocks, particularly when its the end of a long term. You try not to take it personally, but when you believe something so passionately and it is questioned, it cuts deep.
As I listen to the student led conferences, I ride every word with the student and I am thankful that they have a chance to talk about themselves, what they have learned and what goals they have for their learning next term.
I am hoping that from these little things we do, bigger and better learners will grow.