Looking at student work is a big and important part of my job. On the one hand, student work should be a really good indicator of what the student knows and what the student can do. Only, it isn't always. Without a doubt, the best way to understand what a student knows and is able to do is to observe a student at work and/or talk to that student. I have a class of 22 students which is fairly small. Still, in the course of one activity or learning experience it is difficult to spend adequate time with each of my students. Without this time, I'm left unable to tell what each kid really needs to take the learning to the next level. So, I depend, at times, on student work samples.
Looking at student work samples isn't always the best way to assess learning though. Few kids are able to really capture their thinking on paper. As the years pass, I feel like students are coming to me less able to complete high quality written work. There are a number of factors at play. Students' fine-motor skills seem to be decreasing. As a result, many students do not have the physical ability to record everything that is necessary to capture their thinking. Some students do not have the work ethic, stamina, or self-discipline to do the work necessary to capture their thinking. Others, do not really understand how to break down their thinking and translate it into math models and notation on the page. Some students have not been held accountable for producing high quality written work. These students do enough to be "done".
I recently gave my students a few array problems to solve. In each problem, some of the array was visible and some was either missing or obscured. The students had to figure out how many in all given what they could see. The students were instructed to explain how they found their answer. After looking through my students' work I have drawn the following conclusions:
Here is what I wonder: is it really important for students to be able to break down their thinking and show their working, step by step, on paper or is getting the right answer enough?
My gut tells me that the answer if probably some where in between. I know that I want students to be able to break down their steps and make sense of each problem. I know that the simple work we're doing around partitioning and notation is laying the groundwork for the algebraic thinking that will be demanded of my students in the future.
So, I have some work to do. I realize that I have to model more so that my students can better understand my expectations. I see a lot of effective things going on in their work but they're not pulling all the pieces together. My plan for Monday is to take the seven by seven array and ask the kids to talk me through how they solved it. Many just knew that there were 7 rows and 7 columns. Because they know that 7 x 7 = 49, there weren't too many steps to share. My plan is to use this simpler problem to model alternative solutions and appropriate notations. Then, I'd like them to retry the first two problems. I'd like to see my students partitioning and labeling their array. I'd like to see some algebraic notation that matches their partitioning. I'd also like to see evidence of effective and efficient computation. I'm doing this for a few reasons. I'd like to be able to rely on my students work as a window into their thinking. I'd like my students to be aware of their own thinking and to be able to represent it in concrete and visual ways. I want my students to know that I expect them to produce high quality work and that, when they fall short of expectations, they'll be expected to retry until they meet success. Below are a few samples of the student work I received after their first attempt. I'll try to post corresponding student work after Monday.
I have to be responsible. All teachers do. I'm responsible for myself, my actions, and how I treat others. I'm responsible for the 22 sweet children in my room. I'm held responsible, at times, for things I am really not responsible for and I don't like it.
We've got a real push in my district to head toward more inclusive models. This sort of gives me a chuckle because it is not a new idea. It is not even a new idea in my district. I had five kids fully included in my classroom in 1994. They all had pretty significant language-based learning disabilities. I worked closely with a teaching assistant who was in my room all day. In 1995 I had a boy with autism fully included in my fifth grade classroom. At the time, he was the only child with diagnosed autism in our district. He had a one-to-one aide. There were 11 other students with IEPs in my classroom that year. A special educator or her assistant co-taught with me all day long. Since then, I have had many students fully included or partially included in my regular education classes. This is a good thing.
The challenging thing can be working closely with one or more adults to provide quality education in the inclusion setting. Don't get me wrong. I have gotten along with all but one of these aides. (That all but one story is a doozie better left for another post.) I've been blessed to work with some truly stellar professionals. I have learned so much from the special educators and paraprofessionals I've had the chance to work with. While getting along with the other staff in the room has really never been my problem, things can a get a little tricky. Classroom teachers are responsible for utilizing the staff in our rooms effectively but we do not supervise this staff. When work ethic wanes, when staff in our room make poor choices during the day (like texting instead of teaching), when they're unkind to kids, we are ultimately responsible. But, because we don't directly supervise the staff (nor do I want to) addressing deficits etc. can be awkward and uncomfortable. I don't mean to be a slacker but I don't feel like managing the adults in the room is a responsibility I really want to take on.
There is another responsibility that I have a hard time embracing. When a family is disappointed by a teacher, administration, or even the special education team in our building, they sometimes generalize their disappointment and say they've been disappointed by the district. Fast forward a year or two later. Now this parent has a child in my classroom and I am "the district". I find myself wishing for a fresh start with this family. This is kind of strange because I'm really just starting out with the family. I will never criticize my district to gain favor with such a family. To be clear, I'm really proud of the good work our district does. Nonetheless, don't want to take responsibility for the mistakes made in previous years.
I embrace the responsibilities that are truly mine. I just wish I wasn't held responsible for the work of others.
Today was a stormy day. The weather wasn't the only thing that felt unsettled. Our classroom was a bit stormy too.
When I walked in the door, first thing this morning, I was taken aback by just how much our classroom felt like a swamp. Everything was damp and even with the windows open, there wasn't a breath of fresh air circulating. I got some fans going but that was little help. The kids came in and we started our day in the typical way. I greeted the kids and they began with their morning routines. I took attendance. I wondered about a child who seems to have been out a lot. I checked the attendance records. This kiddo has been absent 5 out of 13 days. As I was wondering about this an adult popped in to share some info about a kid she was concerned about. I was concerned too because it just so happened to be the child with poor attendance. I called the office to share the information.
After getting off to a hectic start, I called the kids to the space in our classroom where we begin each day with a number talk. Then, all of a sudden it seemed like a handful of different people all wanted something from me. One adult told me they were pulling a child to do some testing. The counselor came by to pick up a child, The Adaptive Physical Education teacher phoned into the classroom looking for a student for APE. Phone calls are tough because I have to physically leave the teaching space and cross the room to take the call while the children wait for my attention. As far as I know, this child doesn't have APE. At the very least, it is not listed on the IEP. Nonetheless, I found an adult who could locate the child and send her to APE because, coincidentally, she was the same kiddo who had been pulled for testing. The teacher who works with English language learners came by to pick up another child.
All of this would have been okay except it was all happening while the kids were present. I was very distracted by all of this plus I couldn't stop thinking about my student who was absent. The phone rang again. It was the office. My principal and the school resource officer wanted to talk to me about the child with many absences. I stuck my head in the classroom next door to get temporary coverage for my class.
I stepped out and hustled downstairs. We talked briefly, in a very focused way, about the child and my concerns. The officer would check to make sure the child was okay. The family hadn't called him in sick in two days and the school wasn't able to reach the family at any of the provided phone numbers. There was some cause for concern.
I returned to the classroom and continued the math lesson. Midway through the lesson, the principal came through with the director of special education for a short observation. I love this actually. It is so important for them to arrive unannounced and witness what goes on in our classroom. I never see their visits as a threat and I'm always proud to share the learning going on in the room. Today, however, it seemed like just one more distraction for me. (Not for my kids though. They're used to visits and it didn't seem to impact them at all.)
Once math was over we transitioned and started the English language arts lesson with #classroombookaday. That's when the storm moved through. With no warning, there was lightning and the loudest clap of thunder. Holding the students' attention was a challenge. The book was just okay (my opinion and the kids' opinion). It was written specifically to teach children how to regulate their voices in different settings. I have no doubt that they understood the author's purpose and learned a bit about voice regulation. They just didn't find the book entertaining. Between the thunder and the lack-luster book, the kids were very distracted.
I'd love to say that the day improved as it passed. It didn't. I had a meeting with my team and my principal and I needed to touch base with the nurse about a student who was using visits to the nurse's office to escape the stresses of the classroom. I'm pretty sure I ate lunch at some point but at no point did I catch my breath. After lunch we had a newspaper reporter present to the entire fourth grade. We returned to class with just enough time to for the students to write their end-of-the-day reflections before they headed off to their technology class. I spent my entire prep period on the phone with a parent whose child is struggling with social/emotional issues. I still have to touch base with two additional parents and review some testing and an IEP before I attend a meeting first thing tomorrow morning.
Today was stormy and unsettled.
What I hate most about it is that I don't feel like I was present for my students. Not every day is like today. Today was probably the perfect storm. There is lots of "stuff" that happens during the course of each day. I wish I had more control over the flow of it. Today felt like a storm surge all day long. Tomorrow will likely be better.
itToday my co-teacher and I started to assess students during the Daily Cafe. We use a running record from Wonders Reading. We each sat with one student at a time and asked the student to read the text as beautifully as possible. We asked that they read at an appropriate rate, paying close attention to punctuation. We asked that the children back up and reread when they think they may have miscued. Finally, we asked that the students attend to the meaning of the text as they read because we'll be asking a few comprehension questions when they've finished.
I had an opportunity to read with two very good readers today. Neither was as fluent as I know they'll grow to be this year but both had some excellent strategies and skills. We so often measure students' fluency with running records. I sometimes feel bad asking kids to do a cold reading. I know some stress out about it. In actuality, how often do we really read aloud as adults? When we do, we're typically able to practice beforehand by reading the text silently or aloud prior to the real read. While fluency and accuracy are important, I always look at comprehension as the best indicator that students are on track as readers.
Running records do give us a window into a child's comprehension but the data, particularly at the beginning of the school year, can be misleading. Some kids find it awkward, uncomfortable, and just plain miserable to sit down beside an adult who they don't know all that well and read. Kids can react to this situation in a variety of ways. Some have thoughts in their heads that play over again and again like, "please let this be over." Others simply fly through the reading so that they can just be done. Others could care less about having to sit and read with someone who is practically a stranger. As you can imagine, when a child does find the situation stressful, results are impacted. Stress has a negative impact on learning. Therefore, early running record results are not always a valid reflection of each child as a reader.
Still, we do like to start to understand our kids and their strengths and challenges as early as possible so we forge ahead with those awkward running records. I've been using the same reading passage in my September running records for a little bit now. There is a question I ask at the end of the read that asks children to use details from the text to make a reasonable prediction. This particular passage is about a set of twins. One twin is athletic and one is more focused on academics. The question asks what the reader thinks will happen when the twins grow up. Over the years, countless readers have told me that the athletic twin might move away. This has always been a head scratcher for me. After many reads, I see what has prompted this response. The text says, "Lucy's athletic talent is awesome and is going to take her far." Often our fourth-graders interpret figures of speech, idioms, and the like in a literal way.
It sure has taken me a long time to catch on! This shines a light on a critical point: listening to kids read and asking them about their thinking is just as important as watching kids do math and asking them about their thinking. In an instructional setting, I'd definitely follow up with a kid who said they thought Lucy would move away by asking, "I'm curious, what makes you think so?" Had I done this, this common response would have made so much sense to me, and I could have planned future instruction around language. Sometimes, the informal work we do with kids is so much more powerful than the one-size-fits-all, standardized (not personalized), formative, and summative assessments we rely so heavily upon.
In the end, it really is all about balance. So, I'm going to trust myself a little more this year. I'm going to talk to kids as much as I possibly can with a focus on deep listening. I'll use those required assessments but I'll use the information gleaned from them with care and weigh it against what I already know about each child. I'll try to learn about children and their skills and strategies in an authentic way. I'll measure learning with each child. They'll be the most important member of the team when it comes to making judgements about their learning.
Putting kids first is important. There are a zillion ways to do this every day. I'm uncovering new way slowly and improving my practice day by day.
I have an inclusion classroom this year. This is great because I have a special educator who comes into the classroom to co-teach alongside me. Students in our classroom are able to receive all of their academic instruction in the classroom. Some receive accommodations so that they can access the curriculum and have opportunities to reach their full potentials. Still, there are EIGHTEEN pull out sessions scheduled for my students during the course of the week. In my mind, pull-out is a necessary evil. Without a doubt, there are kids who require therapies and counseling that cannot be delivered in the inclusion setting. Nonetheless, these most vulnerable students are missing out on what goes on in the classroom when they're not present. With 18 pull out sessions, there is no way I can possibly schedule all the important stuff when everyone is there. There simply isn't enough time in the week when I have all students to make this happen.
Here is what I can do. I can schedule the truly special stuff like #classroombookaday when everyone is in the classroom. This is no easy feat but working hard to make this happen is important to me. The other thing I can do is to build structures in the classroom to support these kids as they transition back into the classroom. I want them to know that they've been missed and I want them to make a smooth transition back into the classroom without drawing significant attention to themselves.
Because I use the Daily Cafe and math workshop I can structure my whole class instruction when most students are present but I also have the ability to meet one on one with students who miss instruction. This will certainly help students avoid feeling like they are missing out or falling behind.
Here is the hard part for me. I know that readers improve by reading and mathematicians improve by doing math. When these kids are out of the room they're doing less off both. They need to be out. I really do get it but it is so hard to accept the fact that they're getting less instruction and practice than their peers. My co-teacher and I will work to minimize the impact. I just wish there was another way.
The students had built all the arrays possible to represent a given set of numbers during a recent math class. They designed one poster for each number. The poster had a title that stated the number they were working. All the possible arrays for that number were pictured using graph paper. Each array's dimensions were labeled. In the end, all the factor pairs for each number were listed.
9: 1, 3, 9
27; 1, 3, 9, 27
54: 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 18, 27, 54
When the children had finished the two to three posters I had assigned each group, the posters were arranged on tables in preparation for a gallery walk.
As we stood around the first set of related posters I asked the students to study them and then to share what they noticed and wondered. SILENCE. MORE SILENCE.
AWKWARD, UNCOMFORTABLE, SILENCE.
No one wanted to get the conversation started because each child thought that what he or she was noticing was too obvious to share.
FINALLY after a LONG period of painful SILENCE one student shared that some numbers had more rectangular arrays than others.
Then another child shared that you could make a rectangle with a side of 1 for every rectangle and that when you did, the other factor was the number itself.
Eventually someone shared that each of the three posters shared some of the same factors.
Now we were ready to dive deep. Why is that? Is that true of every set of posters? How are the numbers for each poster related anyway? Can we make a generalization? Can we use a model to prove this generalization?
You have no idea how tempted I was to get the conversation started. It would have been all too easy for me to say, "Does anyone notice that the factors on the "9" poster are also showing up on the "27" poster and also on the "54" poster?" I was so tempted. The silence was difficult to endure. I bit my tongue.
These kids have to learn to do the work of mathematicians and their interest in math has to come from within. They have to be the ones asking the questions and making the sense.
As a teacher it is so much easier to be the one doing the noticing, the thinking, and asking all the questions. This practice just doesn't grow mathematical minds in the same way that waiting out the awkward silence and inspiring kids to notice, to wonder, to grapple, to listen, to question, to think for themselves does.
At the end of the lesson I acknowledged how difficult it is to be the first voice in the room and to feel as though you are just stating the obvious. Then I thanked the kids who were willing to do this. Sometimes it is the simplest ideas that get the conversation started. These simple observations can lead us to consider deeper mathematical concepts. Hopefully today's lesson was the start of a journey we'll continue together. I hope the kids realized that I'll be journeying along with them but that I'll be counting on them to take the lead.
Apparently, there is a new parenting style that has emerged. They are called "snowplow parents" and they work to remove every possible obstacle from their child's life so that their kid can just move through life with great success avoiding any potential run-ins with failure. Elementary teachers are not the only ones who encounter these parents. They're also turning up at colleges and universities to advocate for their children. They've even been spotted by HR directors at the child's workplace or potential workplace.
I wish I could say that I wasn't seeing any evidence of this in my room but I think I may be. Recently, a parent made a written request that I make changes to seating and locker assignments because of a conflict her child was having with another. The mom has also reached out to me to seek my assurance that her child be able to visit the nurse whenever a request is made.
At this point in the school year, while I'm still getting to know the kids, all requests to visit the nurse are honored. No biggie. The other request is more troubling.
I took a deep breath when I got the email but in all honesty I was a little upset. I don't like it when parents go to extreme measures to solve problems like this. It is so early in the school year and the kids are trying to figure one another out and I'm learning about them too. More importantly, it sends kids the message that I don't think they're capable of solving their own problems and that they need me to step in and save the day. I planned to call the mom during lunch in an attempt to talk her out of such a drastic reaction.
When we got on the phone she explained the situation in detail as well as problems that had arisen in the child's past with other mean children. She alleged that the child was victim of bullying both by the students and a previous teacher. She felt strongly that the move be made. I explained that decisions like this have consequences too and that the other children in the class will wonder about the changes.
The truth of the matter here is that both kids seem exceptionally sweet. I have serious concerns around how the accused child will handle the changes. It certainly isn't going to send a warm and fuzzy, "you're welcome here" message. I worry deeply about the consequences for BOTH kids. I especially worry about how having the road cleared of all obstacles will impact this child in the future.
Over the course of our phone conversation the mother provided compelling reasons to move the seat and locker. She was very convincing. My heart still told me that moving the child was a bad idea but after explaining the limited options and potential consequences the mom was still adamant. I decided to go ahead with the move.
Here is why I decided to fold. I know I can work to lift the second child up and assure that the impact of this mother's decision is minimal. While the long term consequences for her child may be undesirable, I have decided to honor this parents knowledge of her child and knowledge of what is best for the student. I cannot and will not pretend to know what is best for any child. That is the job of parent. As a parent, I'm often unsure when it comes to my own children's best interest. Parenting is such hard work. I've decided to trust this parent. The consequences are not on me. I know this yet my heart still hurts for this kiddo. Every fiber of my being is telling me this is a bad idea.
Trusting is hard.
Every year I struggle a little as I prepare for Open House. I have thirty minutes with the parents and I want to make the trip and the time spent worth it.
I think it is important for parents to know me, the human, a little. I want them to know that, like many of them, I am a full-time working mom who is raising two teenagers alongside my husband. I need them to know that I am struggling. I don’t have all the answers. I often get it wrong. I won’t judge them when they falter. We really are all in it together. I know all parents do their best. I know how hard the work is.
I also want the parents to know that I will help to make the year stress free for their child and for them. Stress impacts learning in a really negative way. I’ll do my very best to alleviate stress before it becomes a problem. I'll work to not be the cause of stress. This does not mean to say that the year will be easy.
If all goes as planned. The year will be very hard.
I explain that all kids should be working very hard to meet my high expectations for them. The work should be challenging and it should be a struggle to do the work well. In fact, I’m hoping that before long, students are working hard and struggling to meet THEIR OWN high expectations of themselves. I tell the parents to contact me right away if their child becomes frustrated or seems to be coasting along. Frustration and boredom do not yield growth.
But what about curriculum? In the past, I’ve taken time to outline each core curriculum in detail. This is typically when I look out and notice a glazed over look in their eyes. Now, instead, I’ll name our core curriculums but then quickly get to the heart of the matter. In our classroom:
Mostly, parents need to understand that their child will have a place in our classroom. They need to know that their child belongs. Taking time to explain the things that set our classroom apart helps parents to feel at ease. I’ll explain:
This was my twenty-fifth attempt at Open House. I’m not sure I nailed it this year. I know it was better than last year. I hope it was worth the time that parents so generously spent. I have quite a few Open Houses ahead of me. I’m committed to continuous improvement.
There are a few things I'm struggling with as I observe my students and begin to chart the course for the year.
Some times kids in fourth grade raise a stink when they don't get what they want. They do this for a host of reasons. Mostly, it is because they don't have the skills to get what they want in an appropriate way. Or, they don't have the ability to react to disappointment in a way that is grade-appropriate. Sometimes it is because they have a very real disability and they're learning at their own rate. These kids are working hard but they may just not have these skills yet. Other kids may not have a disability but there is something else going on. Perhaps trust is lacking and as a result, they do not feel like they belong or have power in the classroom. At the end of the day, the result is the use of negative or inappropriate behaviors to get what they want or need.
Maybe it is not that hard? Just encourage desirable behavior with incentives and discourage bad behavior with consequences.
Here is what happened in class today. The children were asked to meet me at the smart board with their math notebooks. One of my students was none too happy to comply. He complained and took his time gathering up his notebook and pencil. He huffed and puffed his way over to the meeting area only to become increasingly agitated when it came time to pick a seat. Apparently there was no room where he wanted to sit. He tried to wedge his way into a spot. When told by an adult in the room that there really was no room in that space and to move to another, he started to whine loudly and to complain. After just a few seconds, a classmate offered up his seat. The disgruntled child took the seat and sat down. The behaviors stopped. The other adult in the classroom looked at me and put her hand on her heart. She made a face that said, "how heartwarming."
I wasn't so sure I agreed. There is an outside chance that I'm getting a little crusty after all these years but I worried about what had just gone down in the classroom.
For a moment, let's assume the very best. Let's assume that the child who gave up his seat did so because he was empathetic. He felt for this child. He saw that his classmate was upset and he wanted to lighten his load. He gave up his seat. It wasn't a big sacrifice. In fact, the seat he held had meant very little to the boy. It was easy to do the right thing. It felt good when the boy saw his classmate settle in and heard the room come to a hush. He was relieved when the instruction began and his teacher assumed her normal posture and tone. He did this. He solved the problem with his kindness.
For another moment let's consider a second possibility. Perhaps the boy wanted to restore peace to the classroom. Perhaps the unrest made him feel stress. Perhaps he gave up his seat so that his lesson could start. Perhaps.
When I looked to my colleague I could quickly tell that she was touched by the student's empathy and kindness. I was too. I assumed the best. I always try to.
But I wondered about the two lessons learned before the math lesson even began. The empathetic boy learned that when someone is upset, it is our responsibility to help solve their problems. He took a very active role in the problem solving and as a direct result of his actions, peace was restored and the lesson began. The boy who had been in a state of upset learned an important lesson too. He learned that should he really want something, he could pitch a fit, whine, moan, carry on and eventually someone would give in to him and he'd get what he wanted. It was just a matter of time. He may have learned the art of manipulation today. At the very least, his bad behavior was reinforced. I predict we'll continue to see bad behavior from this child if we continue to reward it.
Does the situation change when one child has a disability? Does the situation change when on child is hurting and having a hard time finding his place because of something that is happening at home, in his head or in his heart? Does the solution change? These are not rhetorical questions. They are very real questions.
I know we can do better with our students who struggle with behavior. I know that we need to coach in a advance of every transition. I know that our students will benefit from feedback that is specific. We're still building our relationships and trust with our kids. There has to be a place where empathy is encouraged, were kindness counts, and where we all believe in one another. This is hard. It is hard to imagine a place where a child can be empathetic and another child is not rewarded for poor behavior. Perhaps there is a place where a child can work a little harder, have his effort be recognized by the empathetic child, receive an authentic reward for positive effort. I'm imagining a classroom where we all work together to make sure everyone gets what is needed and where no one takes advantage of kindness and where no one manipulates to get what they want.
Tomorrow, we'll try again. I can do better.
We're into the third week of school but actually, today was only day seven with my students. By this time, I'm itching to collect some hard core data on my kids. I'm eager to know more about their skills. I want to start planning my course for the year.
This is not the time to assess. I have to force myself to pump the brake. This is no time to pass out a paper and pencil test. This is no time to give kids the impression that they may not measure up. I don't want to do anything that will give my students the notion that they don't meet my expectations, I don't want anyone feeling like they don't belong in our classroom.
Instead, this is the time to build community. This is the time to build relationships and to establish routines so that kids can feel safe. This is the time to focus on developing trust. It is also the time to make valuable observations.
During these first couple of weeks I do what I ask my students to do so often. I notice and I wonder. I notice the kid fake reading during read to self time. I wonder if he needs help selecting good fit books. I wonder if he sees himself as a reader at all. I wonder if he is distracted because of something going on in his heart or head. I wonder if he worries about what the other kids are thinking. Is that why he holds firm to a book he cannot read?
I notice what the other students are doing when the new student speaks. Are they going to accept her and quickly count her among their friends? Are they really listening to her? Will she feel safe in this room? I wonder what else I can do to help her transition to a new school.
I notice how the boy who gets the math problem wrong reacts to my coaching. I wonder if he is embracing mistake-making as a learning opportunity and a welcome part of the process or will this mistake take him out of the game? Will I need to coach these kids around what to do when a mistake happens? Are these kids worried about the social consequences of making a public mistake or are they so self-assured, with a real growth mindset so that there really is no social consequence?
I'll notice how my students handle direction-following. Are there students who will need coaching here? I wonder how I can help them to acquire the skills they need, without embarrassing them, so that they can handle the projects, and longer-term assignments that are just weeks ahead. I wonder which strategies might work best for them so that their executive functioning won't hold them back.
You know I'll be watching to see who is misbehaving. I'll wonder which little darling is making those sound-effects. I'll wonder why one girl snapped her pencil in half and left it on her desk for me to find. I'll wonder why another student yells, "done" every time she finishes a task and won't revisit work when I ask her to add more detail or to check for accuracy. I'm wondering about the two kids who are constantly tattling on their classmates. I'm wondering what they need from me. Attention? Just a listening ear? How can I teach them to solve some of their problems with peers independently and how can I teach them to let some infractions go?
Finally, I listen and notice which voices are in the room. I wonder why some are not. Are the kids who are quiet simply natural introverts or do they lack the confidence to take a risk? Are kids feeling like our room is a safe place for them to share themselves? Are there specific things I should be doing to create a space for all learners in our room? How can I build the essential trust for all students in our room to learn and grow?
There will be lots of time to collect hard data. There will be time for those pencil and paper formative and summative assessments. Now is the time to set the stage for learning. If I get it right, all students will have a chance to thrive. If I blow it, the learning will be that much harder for my kids. The stakes are high. Game on.