What kids want to know on the first day…

August 13, 2010 at 8:13 PM Leave a comment

Loved this from “Fires in the Middle School Bathroom – Advice for Teachers from Middle Schoolers” by Kathleen Cushman and Laura Rogers:

  • Are we in the right room?
  • Where do we sit?
  • What will we be learning in this class?
  • Where in the classroom will we keep our stuff?
  • Do you give a lot of homework?
  • What kind of assignments will you be giving us?
  • Will you be available to help us outside class? If so, how does that happen?
  • Do you give grades? What are they and how do you decide?
  • Is this class going to be fun?

This list was from interviewing 40 of middle school kids from 12 different, urban schools all around the US. Sounds pretty good to me, entering my, oh wow, 27th year of teaching. The book is a great read all through – entertaining, sweet and a refreshing look at the ‘audience’ for all our efforts and good intentions.

I add “How can I recover if I mess up the first time?” In the middle class, suburban community I work in, that’s a really big concern. We have lots of very grade-stressed kids (and/or parents).

I’m really into learning from ‘failing’, where there are now learning opportunities. My grading system reflects that, for example, I allow full credit for fully re-done assignments after some coaching. Tests can be redone for up to a “B”. It’s less extra work than I expected, and gives kids a way to dig out of a hole and take risks.  Because what and how you measure (or grade) is what you get.

I’ll be posting more about opening school as it gets nearer. But even this far into it, I still get nervous, still wondering if I’ve completely lost the plot over the summer. Anyway, hope this is helpful.

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Entry filed under: Assessment and grading, Class Management. Tags: , , , .

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