I am currently working with a group of teachers and administrators who want to increase the effort of their students focused on critical learning behaviors. This focus matches my continual chorus that teachers do not cause student achievement…students cause student achievement. The real work of the teacher is to teach and model critical learning strategies and then create the work and environment that encourage students to “workout” and succeed.
Students learning new behaviors requires teachers working as coaches….giving feedback when the learners are practicing correctly and “feedforward” (corrections) when changes are needed. Athletic and performing arts coaches use these strategies to guide continuous improvement of their performers. I have read that video tapes of John Wooden’s UCLA basketball practices reveal that he seldom gave praise or criticism but as many as 1000 specific behavioral statements in a single practice.
I am currently reading Doug Reeves’ Elements of Effective Grading: A Guide to Effective Practice. He focusses on the value of feedback and suggests grading strategies that provide students much more feedback and encouragement than many of our existing school grading practices.
In one example he suggests teachers score student work on a 1-4 scale. (page 66)
2=Progressing, but not yet proficient—more work is required
1= Not meeting standard—student requires intensive intervention and extensive work in order to make progress
When turning student scores into grades he suggests:
A= At least four assessments with a final score of 4 and 2 assessments with a final score of at least 3
B= At least four assessments with a final score of at least 3 and two with final score of at least 2
C= At least three assessments with a final score of at least 3.
Note that the focus is on the final score. Therefore using feedback from your teacher to improve your work to proficient or above is at the center of grading. Revees believes such a process promotes students’ respect for teacher feedback, hard work, and determination.
The book also offers an example of a rubric for giving students feedback on their learning effort. (page 73) I would see great value in teachers designing these with their students.
1. You are asleep, distracted, conversing with others… disengaged from class. You are showing that you don’t care about the class, your fellow students, or the teacher.
2. You are pretending to pay attention….superficial engagement. You are not participating actively in individual or group work.
3. You were ready when the bell rang. You volunteered to participate in class and group activities. You asked questions and contributed actively.
4. You took an active leadership role in class helping and encouraging other students. You know that assisting others to move up on this continuum leads to better success for the entire class.
I am very interested In finding more examples of “coaching” learning behaviors and promise to share any you send my way. Thanks.