I Haven’t …

The end of the year is coming near. As I think about the next few weeks and contemplate areas of focus, I think back on what I’ve done this year, but I also think about what I haven’t done.

  • I haven’t handed out any worksheets, or actually any photocopied papers.
  • I haven’t required that all students do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way.
  • I haven’t done printing pages.
  • I haven’t insisted that students write on lines (even though at different times I’ve modelled how to do so).
  • I haven’t taught skills/subjects in isolation. We don’t transition period by period. We have big blocks of learning time. 
  • I haven’t stopped students from speaking up and suggesting new approaches (or options) that work best for them. 
  • I haven’t insisted that students use technology, and I haven’t insisted that they don’t. I try to help students think about the tool that’s best for the activity (and for them), and let them make choices, reflect, and make changes if needed.
  • I haven’t stopped students when I know that they’re making a mistake (in a classroom activity). I might ask questions. I might get them to think. But I don’t say, “no.” I try to let them problem solve and learn from these mistakes.
  • I haven’t given out marks — except for on report cards — but instead focused on Learning Goals, Success Criteria, and feedback. I’ve really tried to just communicate the marks to parents, and instead, have the students focus on growth. 
  • I haven’t produced the pretty finished products or beautiful bulletin board displays. Student work all looks different. The displays are almost always done by my kids, and may include extra tape and crooked papers. The work almost always highlights the process of learning. 
A Crooked Display, But Beautiful Learning!

A Crooked Display, But Beautiful Learning!

I tell myself that I have taught students to be …

  • thinkers.
  • problem solvers.
  • collaborators.
  • innovators.
  • and many times, even “teachers.”

I know my students: I know their strengths and their needs. I know the curriculum expectations. I know how they connect, and I know, and/or am continuing to learn, how I can use student interests to meet these expectations. I know that I don’t have all of the answers and that I make LOTS of mistakes. I also know that I learn from these mistakes, that I’m willing to ask questions and receive support, and that everything I do — whether right or wrong — I do with the best of intentions for kids. And so, with my kids in mind, I’m trying to tell myself that what I “haven’t done” is actually okay because what I “have done” will still allow these students to succeed … and hopefully, to shine. But sometimes I wonder, is there something that I haven’t done that I should be doing? How do you decide? There’s still time to make changes. Are there changes that I should be making?



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