Day 146 (of 184) fallacy of teaching & reporting
My journey to embracing eportfolios and backing off of report cards has been decades in the making.
My sister and I were born 2 years + one day apart. Winter babies. General consensus says ‘hold back a year’. My parents (dad a principal) opted not to. Same nurturing. Same environment. Completing learning tasks was easy to me. An effort for my sister. My learning journey did not had as many obstacles or actual ‘learning’ as my sister did; yet on the transcript of life as we both completed university degrees, the letters on my transcript show I ‘learned better’ than my sister even though she worked a lot harder (and used more ‘rigour’ than I did.
For some, learning is easy. I never had a problem with spelling lists. Not always perfect, but darn close. I had friends though that would figure out ways to remember the words of the week and then never spell them right again. Others struggled. Every. Single. Week. Maybe a couple used strategies such as word lists to “learn from” but I know I got much better bang-for-the-buck from using ‘making words’ strategies as a teacher than I ever did from 20 & a bonus word….but I’m still representing my school district at a literacy spelling bee fundraiser later this week. Hypocritical? I love spelling bees – because they are (should be) voluntary where being competitive is chosen, not mandatory.
I freely state that my oldest makes every teacher feel like a genius. She completes tasks and extends her learning for intrinsic reasons. She also plays basketball at a competitive level. Oh, and plays musical instruments by ear ‘for fun’. Always got 4s & As on her report cards. Did she ‘work’ for it…..that’s harder to measure. I am prouder of how she extends her learning and seeks greater understanding. On her report card: 4+? 107%? On her learning journey: playing basketball with girls 4 years older than her…. Competing in math competitions. Writing entries for competition. Hope my wife scrapbooks some of these….
I also say that my son will make same teachers question everything. The first step in change. He deals with anxiety. Big time. His journey has been more about being in the classroom than getting work done. And he’s done an amazing job. An exhausting job. Report card is pretty blank. Hard to get a percentage when many tasks cannot be completed. Yet as his older sister says “he’s scary smart”. Faster than me at making connections (I said this was a strength of mine in my last interview….). Great sense of humour. Does great at analyzing multi step math questions. Horrible at lists of multiplication questions. Not great at written output, yet when challenged to write a character sketch, created his own story and talked about one of those characters. But not task oriented. His report card has never been one to ‘earn money for 3s/4s As/Bs’. But his journey (I would argue) has been much more ‘work’ than that of his journey. Hope my wife has his earlier stuff scrapbooked, but as for the future, one of his teachers is ‘trying out’ an eportfolio to document and share his learning journey. Change is afoot.
My youngest should reap the rewards of the path her sibling are clearing for her. As ‘the cute one’ she has social skills out the wazoo. She has emerged as a popular student who is starting to explore some disruptions being brought into our school district such as geniushour. This is making me curious to see how her journey though the same school system will be different than her siblings.
And even more significant to me, all my kids are experiencing a school experience that is starting to resemble my own memories less and less each month.
Each learner is unique. Yet we like to use one reporting methodology to ‘compare’ them. Our eportfolios are showing so much more than a set of numbers and letters which represent vague achievement levels. I’m really happy with the way my school is ‘communicating student learning’ not just ‘reporting student achievement’.