My dad is a wealth of knowledge and he loves to share quotes and sayings as a way of contributing to conversations or when he is in the mood to give advice. One of his favourite sayings is “Always begin with the end in mind”. As we begin a new school year, I find myself putting things in place now that will make the year run smoothly and hopefully avoid those moments when we look at each other and wonder what the heck is going on. We’re scheduling times/dates/activities on a year long school calendar in order to avoid those inevitable conflicts that occur and we’re sharing with staff our expectations about routines and procedures so that everyone is on the same page. I’m making a commitment to spending quality time in classrooms with a focus for each walkthrough and starting that routine on day one, with the intention of maintaining it throughout the school year.
But as I think about beginning with the end in mind for a classroom teacher, I wonder what that looks like? Our Ontario Curriculum states that by the end of each grade, the student will be able to…… So in essence we are starting with an end in mind. That end being the mastery of the chosen expectations.
As we have been working our way through Teaching Learning Critical Pathways and Learning Cycles, we have started with a diagnostic task which is designed to include those learning goals that we want our students to have mastered by the end of the assessment period.
But do we focus on that same premise when we think about our teaching practice. If we know that an inquiry-based model is the most effective way to have our students engaged intheir learning, do we start the year off that way? If we know that students need to communicate with each other in order to solidify their learning, do we start the year that way? Or do we have them quietly sit in rows and complete review sheets for the first little while and then slowly move them to a more collaborative learning formation?
Although it’s much easier to produce the pages of review computations and the room is historically quiet while the students work their way through the questions, is that setting the tone for an active collaborative earning environment?
Although it’s much easier to provide an assignment that will only require a mark out of 10 as a form of assessment instead of a good quality task with lots of opportunity for effective, constructive feedback, should we be starting the year that way?
If our goal is to create a classroom where students are asking the questions that they want the answers to and researching, generating and presenting their findings, then why don’t we model that on day one?
So my question for today is….
How are you starting your first day with your new class of students?
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