Friday, December 14, 2018

The Practice Goal: Student Accountability and Support

I admit that it's difficult to stay on top of every student, and it's not too difficult for a student who is absent often, inattentive, busy with other activities, and/or lacking at-home academic support to slip through the cracks of the teaching/learning program.

If you read my blog, you know that as I assessed end-of-year scores last year, I realized that a few capable students who did not regularly practice their math did not perform as well as possible. These were students who had the potential and ability to do well, but due to a lack of practice, they did not do well. That's why I've tried to establish a good in-class and at-home study routine. The challenge has been finding the time outside of school to keep up with this routine. I don't always have the six extra hours a week to review student study and then the multiple hours it takes to follow up with students who are not completing their expected practice in class or out of class.

For example, I had a learning menu on the board this week. Most student dutifully followed the menu while I focused on a small number of students who had identified learning needs related to the unit. Then about halfway through the learning time, I realized a couple of students were doing their own thing rather than practicing. Fortunately I was able to let one parent know who followed up, but I was unable to make the time to help the other student who then didn't do as well on the unit test. I'll try to find that time this week. I don't think I'm alone as an educator as I try to help every child master every learning expectation--there's lots of children to serve, and time is limited.

Overall the majority of students are doing well. This is mainly to do with the fact that I work in an environment where children have substantial in-school and at-home academic support. This support makes a big difference when it comes to learning success.

For my part, however, sticking to the weekly routine is essential. That routine includes the following:
  • a weekly practice packet
  • weekly learning experiences
  • weekly in-class and at-home online practice exercises and small group/individual targeted support
  • weekly time for extra support/help
  • weekly math-tech learning times 
  • bonus and enrichment opportunities for students who are interested
  • weekly individual feedback (this is a challenge since it takes substantial after-hours time and energy)
  • regular newsletters that inform families, colleagues, and students about what the program goals and practice opportunities are.
  • keeping good records about student performance and using those records to assess student practice efforts, performance, needs, and interests.
The more we make time to support each and every student and family in loving and kind ways, the better students develop academically, socially, and emotionally. It's not a simple task for family members or educators, but it's a focus well worth the effort and time. Onward.