I mentioned in my last post about my struggle with too much social/not enough learning focus happening in our classroom and that I'd share what we're trying out. After 2 weeks down, we've been able to celebrate some success!
Here's what we're trying:
1) We identified as a class the three main behavior areas we struggle in: on task, voice level, and caring/respect toward others.
2) We made a rubric to score these behaviors.
- I divided the class into three groups and they each started with what a secure classroom might look like, then went up from there for exceeding and down for beginning and developing.
- Then we came back together as a class to share out and make sure the language and numbers matched up for the whole rubric.
3) We identified the 3 key times in the day that students struggle most: math, Words Their Way, and independent reading.
4) I chose two students per day to assess the class during those times. Those two students had a quick discussion after each of those subject areas, came to an agreement on how to score the class, and reported their assessment to the class. We did this for four days and then looked at the data and set a goal.
5) I compiled the data by assigning one point to a beginning score, up to 4 points for an exceeding score. The first four days, students scored 65/144. Many were able to see that it was below 50%, and that an average of 50% would be all developing scores. Then we set a goal for the next four days. The class agreed that we should shoot for 50%, so 72/144. Different students continued to assess and report to the class each day.
6) At the end of the four days (yesterday), I compiled the rubrics again. Good news! They exceeded their goal! They got 78/144 - 54%! We set a new goal for next 5 days. Students decided on this goal and are aiming for a little above 50%. We'll see how it continues.
Here are a few questions I would ask someone if I read about this. If you have more, feel free to comment and I will get back to you!
Where did this idea come from? I shared my struggles with one of my building administrators. She came in to observe and noticed I was working a lot harder than the students. We sat down and brainstormed some ideas, and this is the one that stuck and felt like the responsibility was being passed over to the students.
Are we seeing classroom behavior improvement? I'd say somewhat. There are still areas we struggle with that aren't necessarily during the three times students assess with the rubrics, but we can't do it all, all the time. Plus, we've just been doing this for two weeks!
Are students being honest with their assessments? Yes. I even noticed that when a few of my more off task students had their day to score the rubric, their behavior was better because they were focusing on their work and the rubric.
Why do I have students do the assessing? It turns the responsibility over to them. The idea that the students should be working harder than the teacher wasn't happening before this. I was the nag, the reminder, even the babysitter at times. Now they students get an honest reflection about their behavior from their peers and some of the pressure is off me.
Doesn't this take a lot of time? To begin with, yes. It took us a few hours as a class to come up with the rubric. I have to copy rubrics and plan who is going to assess the class. We have to take a minute to report at the end of each of the three subjects, but things that are worthwhile do take time. If this helps the learners in my classroom focus more, it's totally worth it!