September 8, 2011

Patience and persistence rule the ROLE

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I teach five sections of language arts to 109 total 8th graders. Like most years, some groups are a little tougher than others.

It's very early, I realize, but more students than last year, in general, have been reluctant to embrace our year-long reading program and other results-only learning strategies.

This has been a little frustrating, mainly because last years' students adapted to the ROLE so easily.

While I was recently reflecting on the first 10 days of the year, I realized that I needed to take my own advice: be patient and persistent.

So yesterday and today, I redoubled my efforts. Instead of getting frustrated when students were not discussing books or reading silently, I gently reminded them of the value of these activities.

When students asked what our reading project was worth, I reminded them that it is an opportunity for them to demonstrate learning in activities that they choose and that I would provide meaningful feedback along the way, rather than punish them with a number or letter grade. Then, I shared some narrative feedback for the entire class to see.

Most importantly, I began supplying even more feedback. I wrote on our online grade program comments like:
"You need to use all of the independent reading time I provide to read and reflect. Too much socializing makes it difficult for you to demonstrate understanding of learning outcomes, and it also disrupts those around you. If you need help finding something interesting to read, please see me. Remember, reading will make you more successful in all that you do."
These comments soon garnered e-mails from parents, thanking me and assuring me that they would help their children understand what they need to do.

I'm sure all is not suddenly roses, but the students are coming around -- thanks to a little patience and persistence.