I’m exhausted! After a week of end-of-semester assessments I’m not sure how I’ll find the energy to start over again on Monday.
I’ve spent the last week listening to presentations of learning (POL) from students, an alternative I’ve offered to students in one of my courses before but never in all of them. I also didn’t anticipate how many students would opt for a POL instead of writing the exam.
I keep the choice of how to present up to the kids and the choice of what outcomes/standards to speak about is up to them as well. What is not optional is the discovery/creation of connections between units, between courses, between the world outside the classroom and within themselves.
What I discovered is that the process revealed so much more about students thinking than a traditional exam ever could. POL allow conversations to happen; for both teacher and student there’s an unveiling of how students learn. I witnessed deep personal connections that went beyond content to reveal deep thinking and wondering. Young people are aware and outward-looking. They are concerned about more than themselves and passionate about our world.
Not all of the presentations were illuminating nor did they demonstrate understanding of content but they still had value. Students who didn’t “show up” all year kept their appointments. And it’s hard to fake your way through a conversation with your teacher about how you think you did versus what it needed to look like and what you are capable of.
As I reflect on the process I realize that students must feel safe and supported in order to be vulnerable enough to take this on. That the relationship between us is the key to make this even a possibility.
I’m not as ready as I normally would be for the new semester. No end-of-the-semester turn around time for me. When I start to feel a bit hard done by, I look at a letter written by one of my international students and suck it up. Noone ever said doing the right thing would be easy.