So a year ago today I wrote a blog called Don’t Put Me In A Box, which in hindsight was the beginning of a long journey to redefining myself as an educator. When I moved to Georgia I was a passionate teacher who had technology integration in her veins. I wanted more than anything to show others the power of teaching through technology . I was met with the firm message that I needed a degree to show my knowledge in instructional technology, and so I got one. I got my EdS in Instructional Technology and Media, and earned my certification in instructional technology as well. I had a good run in my role as a technology specialist, but in 2016 and 2017 I felt some frustration. If you read the blog from last year, you will see I felt very boxed in. I felt very misunderstood, and so I took a big step and decided to go back to the classroom.
JVand3rd has been a fun adventure this year for sure, but one of the best parts of this change is that I have broken free of the box! Now, I probably am seen less as a technology leader, but I am seen far more as a knowledgeable educational leader. I recently was given the privilege of serving on the district report card committee, one where we dig deep into standards based grading and reporting. We have a great book study in place, and I am loving the process of looking at education a new way. This has left me with several great A-ha moments recently, and that clarifies how important this change really was.
Today’s A-Ha moment I want you to think about is all about grading. Today I was grading my area of regular and irregular shapes assessment, and I found this on quite a few papers.
As you can see, the directions were not followed. This student, like a few others, did not use arrays to find the area, nor did they show the work I had asked for. We did this in small group twice this week, so I know they know what I expected, but of course, they realized they didn’t need to multiply when they could just count. Now the natural teacher instinct in me gets fired up that they didn’t do what I asked, but then my newfound values jump in. The standard I am assessing is as follows:
MGSE3.MD.5.b A plane figure which can be covered without gaps or overlaps by n unit squares is said to have an area of n square units.
As you can see, the standard itself was determined to be understood by the 100% at the top of the page. That is what as a teacher I was told to assess. Now, we all know direction following is a very important skill, but is it the skill I am supposed to assess in the standard above? It certainly isn’t. Separating the standard from the soft skills is key. Should I evaluate direction following? Of course I should, but not mixed among my assessment of a standard. Stripping away the teacher pet peeves from truly assessing is crucial in standards based teaching and reporting.
So next time you sit down to grade, can you also separate the standard from the soft skills? I challenge you to try!