I’m also fortunate to be connected to amazing teachers, including my online Professional Learning Networks.
My first question to two district coaches was about grades and “accountability.” I put that in quotes because so many educators use that word to draw a line in the sand with what students need to do. That word has always made me feel uncomfortable.
I don’t mean we don’t all need to be accountable for what we commit to doing. As a teacher, I’m accountable for making sure my students learn and are safe (physcially and emotionally). I also believe I’m accountable for making sure they’re happy and love learning.
That’s really all I care about. If I’m going to be honest. I want my students to love learning. There are a lot of educational practices that get in the way of every student loving learning. I’m getting more and more confident in stopping all educational practices that get in the way of that.
So, I was particulary pleased to read the thought process of these teacher bloggers whom I follow. Three teachers talk is an amazing blog by teachers who are constantly self-reflective. In this particular blog, the author, Shana Karnes, writes about how she learned not to attach a grade to free reading. She was afraid that no grades would make some kids not read, and she was right. But then she realized that her priorities were not in order. Grades and logs got in the way of what she really wanted, to foster the love of reading. Yup.
I was so honored when they asked me to be a guest blogger a few years ago. This is the blog I shared. I made a lot more online connections with like-minded educators from that experience. All of these connections keep me learning!
This blog really sealed the deal on my opening up more about my beliefs. I have been following Shana Karnes for a long time. I loved her honesty and self-reflection in this post. She makes me wish I blogged a long time ago, as in twenty years ago. It’s so hard to think about my process, given I’ve been teaching for 25 years. I love reading her blog.
So, here is my attempt to backtrack and show my own learning. These are things I have not done in years or have never done in the spirit of creating life-long learners:
- Reading logs/journals
- Parent sign-off sheets for reading
- Any accountabiltiy for reading minutes/pages
- Any accountability for reading levels/lexiles
It’s not my goal. I write a lot about writing and mentor texts. That’s the relationship I want to encourage.
Anytime educators pull out the word “accountability,” I feel like they’re looking for ways to categorize learning and students.
This might sound loosey-goosey. My classroom has clear and high level expectations. But I believe in giving students the structure they need with the choice that is vital. They are held accountable to learn. And I help them support their claims for what that means.