1. Is failure a real and regularly option and experience for kids at your school?
At my school failure was a regular option for our students. The reason I say this is because grades are based on specific things that need to be turned in. One of the things that affect grades is homework and because of this some students tends to fail a course.
2. If so, what impact do you believe that is creating? If not, what structures have been put into place to accomplish alternatives?
Before we implemented the changes we have done this year I believe the impact this was having on the students was a cycle of failure. Many of the students who wanted to pass a class were not able to pass a class for something as small as homework. Homework that many of the teachers never really graded or just gave a score based on few of the questions, because of this a good portion of our students knew that for them reaching a certain grade was improbable and worse yet, many didn't try to ask what they could do to improve their grade.
This year our school has shifted the grading for homework from affecting academic grades to citizenship grades. Which should be a better reflection of what the students can do academically.
3. What conditions exist that make it to late to learn and reach competency in your school? Can you give an example?
One of the conditions that make it to late to learn at our school is the amount of work teachers have to do to grade an essay for example. When a teacher has to grade a final essay it might take them a few days to accomplish this. If they end up grading an essay more than once than the amount of time is double and our teachers are already working longer hours than most school and have to create their own curriculum. Another issue that exists in our school is the lack of professional development in growth mind set. Our teachers believe in our students but they have also been through the educational system that teaches us that we need to teach responsibility in our students.
4. What would you do, if anything, to introduce/enhance “never too late to learn” structures in you school if you were the school leader?
If I was the school leader I would shift my focus from grading on specific assignments to creating a project based learning program. I believe this would be a better option because students would be continually working on the project receiving feedback on their work in order to improve it, learn from it and finally reach competency. I would also create a structure for continuous self reflection and goal setting by the students with a check list on their progress toward their goal with an attitude of nothing is ever over until is over.
5. What can you do in your present position to create “never to late to learn” structures into your current practice and those of your peers? Are those things in your sphere of influence?
In my current position my sphere of influence is very small in this particular issue but I believe next year I can make some positive changes in this. As far as creating a “never to late to learn” structure in my current practice one of the things I can do is not see each failure as an actual failure but as a chance to grow in my own knowledge. As far as my peers, the best way I can influence their “never to late to learn” mentality is by sharing this information with them and findings ways to push for this in their classroom. Where are places within the classroom that students can improve on their previous work to show they have reached competency.
6. Commit to 5 things you are willing to do this semester that will make your school increase learning opportunities:
1. Provide more feedback in a timely manner to increase the time available for students to modify work.
2. Cultivate a culture of “it’s never too late”
3. Provide more opportunities for teachers to improve on their technology skills. Create a plan for them for grow with technology.
4. Introduce incompletes to my fellow teachers as a way to not close the book.
5. Be more available to provide support for my fellow teachers for them to learn how to better implement technology in the classroom.