By Bill & Bobbie Donelson
Just as we have asked you, as teachers, to take the month of May to evaluate your efforts across the school year, this is also a good time to encourage your students to engage in the same self-reflection. Have students consider the things they did well this year and the skills they still need to develop.
You can also tie this into a positive classroom awards event. Once you have led each student through a self-evaluation, you can create class awards to highlight the strengths of each student. This demonstrates an appreciation of diversity and the positive characteristics of each student (e.g., wonderful math problem solver, extremely organized student, friendly smile award, good sense of humor medal). Dr. Bob Brooks, a noted author and speaker from Harvard, challenges us to find the “island of competence” in every child.
Ideally, you would have progress-monitoring data to help guide your dialogue with each student regarding the fundamental academic and behavioral growth they have achieved across the year. As it happens, Dr. Joseph Kovaleski is covering the essential aspects of progress monitoring on the CEC RTI Blog this month.
We cannot say enough about the power of graphing student performance. Students and teachers benefit from visual displays of data. The goal setting, regular assessment of critical skills, and performance feedback improve the connection between the learner and their own progress. Students come to realize that their personal investment in the attainment of the goal is critical to success. It is sort of an “aha” for students who have never felt the empowerment of reaching a goal through their own efforts.
Teachers particularly benefit from graphs that show trends that guide data-based decision making. Sometimes an intervention seems to be effecting minimal progress, but objective data collection helps us see the gradual progress that is occurring. However, if we see flat or negative progress, we can respond quickly to enhance the intensity of the intervention, analyze the fidelity of implementation, or consider another approach.
The bottom line is that students of all ages benefit from ownership and responsibility for their own learning. Regular graphing of student performance makes this more tangible and obvious for both students and teachers.
The most exciting and motivating aspect of all of this is seeing the movement toward established goals and recognition of achievements along the way. Take time during the month of May to celebrate the progress that you and your students have made throughout the year!