Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Revisiting the Practice Goal: Teaching Well

My overarching student learning goal this year is to encourage and support student practice. I will tell you that this is not an easy goal for many reasons.

First, it's tough to keep track of every student. For example students who are the toughest to keep track of with respect to supporting their study include the following:
  • Students who are absent often. These students miss important directions, teaching, and materials with respect to practice. 
  • Students without at-home academic support. These students are generally on their own and often forget to bring in their study materials, complete homework, or check lists and class information. 
  • Students whose families are unfamiliar with typical school traditions, routines, and information. In some cases, these may be students whose parents are recent immigrants or families distanced from school life for multiple reasons including health, geography, work expectations, and more. 
Next, it's difficult to find time to help students who struggle. For example, I have students who are very capable of learning, but because of multiple factors, they need extra help and that extra help is difficult to provide given bus schedules, my level of time-on-task responsibilities for multiple children at once, and needed extra help support. I believe that we can rethink some routines, staffing, and scheduling to do better in this arena. I will be thinking about how I can shift my own schedule and that of our team to provide better more and support for these students.

Time to learn is another factor. Some students for multiple reasons grasp the content quickly while others take a lot more repetitions to forge and strengthen the new brain paths needed to successfully learn the information. Students are busy learning a lot both in school and out of school, and student success depends a lot on where they devote that learning time. I encourage all students to give math learning the 60 minutes a day, 20 minutes at home each night, and the extra hour a week for RTI (Response to Intervention). Some students take extra math courses and work more at home while others find it difficult to keep up with the expected study time. This is a constant variation and challenge. 

Today I'll revisit the practice goal with students. They will complete a reflection sheet related to their current learning. They'll clean out their study drawers and review their study folders. Then they'll start a new folder for the next leg of the school year. In the meantime, I'll think about who needs more and different for the months ahead in order to gain greater math learning success. To well support each student takes a lot of dedicated time and support. I'll be thinking about how I will do better and also how the system might support my efforts to support students more. I think there's room for betterment here.