Last week, I got involved in a Twitter conversation with David Benay, Stephen Hurley, Andrew Campbell, and Brian Aspinall. The conversation started because of some tweets shared from the Self-Regulation Symposium (#selfreg2015), but as you can see in my Storify Story, it definitely evolved from there.
While reading the comments from David, Stephen, Andrew, and Brian, I came to a conclusion that started to make me feel very uncomfortable: maybe I’ve been looking at the Learning Skills all wrong. Since Friday morning, I’ve been thinking back to comments and marks that I’ve put on the report cards for Learning Skills, and wishing that I could have a “do over.” Why? Because when I’ve evaluated Learning Skills, I think that my definition of success is too narrow, when students might actually be meeting these expectations in many different ways.
Let me think back …
- If students need to move around or fidget with objects in order to participate in group discussions, are they still self-regulating?
- If class discussions are too much for students to handle, and they can recognize this in themselves and come up with alternative options for these times, what mark do they deserve for self-regulation?
- If students can quietly engage with their peers while working independently, how do I perceive their independent work?
- If large groups overwhelm students, but they can collaborate well in groups of two or three, what “value” do I give to collaboration?
- If organizing paper is too much for students, but they can organize their ideas and assignments on a tablet or computer, are they getting evaluated lower on organizational skills? Am I giving students opportunities to choose the way in which to organize their work, or am I enforcing a system that may not work for everyone? Am I being hypocritical knowing that the traditional systems of organization do not work for me?
- If I’m asking students to take responsibility and show initiative in the classroom, what opportunities am I giving them to do so? If they take initiative, but extend learning in a way that I don’t want, are their marks reflecting this? Is this fair?
I wish that I thought of these questions before now, because maybe then, I would have done things differently than I did in the past. While I’d like to think that I always look for ways to meet individual student needs, I don’t know that I always consider these different needs when it comes to Learning Skills. I am now going to change!
Educational Twitter chats and numerous blog posts talk about the need to change the classroom learning environment. There are lots of discussions on Project-Based Learning, Inquiry, and Game-Based Learning. While we talk about the impact that these approaches have on academic learning, what impact do they have on Learning Skills? How might changing viewpoints on Learning Skills change the classroom and school environment? Are we ready for this change? Before, the marks for Learning Skills never really bothered me as much as the grades in subject areas. Now I question more what these different levels may look like, and if marking Learning Skills is just perpetuating a system where there is one view of success. What do you think?