“Can you drive on the way back so I can get some school work done?” I asked my husband (and heard a faint echoing chorus of too many teachers saying similar things on a Sunday afternoon after a busy fall weekend.)
Kurt nodded and changed direction, heading to the driver’s side of the car. I climbed in and organized my papers around me in the passenger seat. Moments later we were on our way.
What to start with first?
I shifted through papers and sighed, wishing I were merely admiring the passing scenery, but knowing I simply had to get some work done. Finally, I pulled out the Habits of Work reflection my students had completed on Thursday. I needed to look through them and give feedback. Not too mentally demanding, but it had to be done. A good place to start.
With our Habits of Work, we have each student assess himself/herself as “Not Yet” “Sometimes” or “Yes!” on four categories: Respect, Preparedness, Engagement, and Determination. Students who score themselves a “Yes!” in a category have to note evidence of how they show that particular strand. After reflecting on all four habits, students create individual goals.
As I read and marked, I was impressed by the detailed responses. Overall, my feedback was in synch with how students were rating themselves. The kids were giving thoughtful evidence and often noting specific areas to work on. For example, one student, explaining why she scored herself a “Yes!” on engagement, focused on partner work, writing, “I ask questions to try to understand what they are thinking.” Another wrote, “I raise my hand and share ideas.” A different student, commenting on determination, wrote, “I ask for help when I need it and try when things are hard. I need to take feedback.” I read through, enjoying the insight into their thinking and appreciating their efforts, getting to know them just a little bit more.
After a while, I looked up, taking a break to check out the rolling hills and sun-dappled landscapes. It was a picture perfect day–stunning New England early autumn in all its glory.
Taking a deep breath and gathering up my will power once again, I turned away from the window and back to my work. I was happy to see I’d made good headway through this particular pile and had only a few papers left. Turning to the next one, I glanced to see who’d written it, then began to review it.
“What!” I yelped and then burst out laughing.
My husband glanced over. “What’s so funny?” he asked.
I looked down at the paper again, shaking my head, laughing even harder.
“OMG!” I said, “I can not believe what my student wrote!”
“What is it?” he said.
So I read it to him, and he laughed just as hard as I did.
Oh, my! I don’t think it’s going to be a boring year!