As we approach the end of the academic year, it is time to look at the overall data for my Year 11 class, generated through internal standards. Do I have the secret to getting great grades? No of course I don’t. But what I do know is that you have to convince your students that they can and will attain great grades. When you set the expectations high, they tend to aim high.
My hunch going into this Teaching as Inquiry (TAI) was that students should be reminded about the basics that make up good writing. This should become the norm for them while reviewing and editing their work. My main focus has been to get them to critique their work before submitting it. This critique could be done by their friend, a family member, another teacher. Anyone they feel comfortable sharing their raw and unfinished work with. The discussions I have had with parents seems to indicate that students are getting their parents to give them feedback. I have certainly found marking to be far more streamlined. Which means that I have focused on their big ideas, rather than the mechanics of their writing.
My class has still been run along the following lines: A flexible attitude, along with varied resources ranging from videos through to exemplars produced by my students, and a bit of everything in between. Students have been encouraged and cajoled into forging their own learning pathways. I’m happy to say that we have been able to work on a multitude of tasks and activities all at once, and no one has run mad. Slightly crazy, but not mad.
Comparisons are odious, but necessary for my TAI. My basis is always my year 11 class as they are, year after year, pretty much made up of the same calibre of student and have an even gender split. My year 11s have displayed a remarkable ability to self manage and generate some brilliant pieces of work independently, and their grades attest to this. Their Excellence grades, for internal assessments for the year, far outweigh the results gained last year. In essence, 78% of the class have managed to gain excellence grades for every internal this year, just about 10 % up on last year.
A TAI was never designed to be scientific. My data has a number of variables. And I have not discussed all the spirals I have included over the year in this blog post. But I have reflected on them in a variety of previous posts. What is clear to me is that students need to be trusted to work independently, and work the way that suits them best. They need to be reminded of the mechanics of writing, but no need to labour the point. And this class responded to being given timelines rather than checkpoints. They said that they liked the fact that I allowed them to prioritise their work in the way that they saw fit.
As we hurtle towards the end of the year, I have reflected on the crazy kids that make up my day. All I ever ask of them can be summarised in the words of Mark Cuban:
The only thing in your control is effort. That’s all and that’s everything.