Am I teaching lab mice?

Celebrating is difficult for me.

I often do not get excited easily.

Hardly do I crack a smile at the small things because the big challenge is still on the horizon.

However, the result of being an ongoing task oriented person (like myself) is I am always checking out the data of my students. I want to have a laser-like focus on particular skills that are being taught to ensure they’ll do well on the PARCC test (which I have never actually seen). My inclination, I often get caught up too much and forget the most important part … I am teaching children, not only collecting data on my lab rats.

Too much focus on the intentional skills being assessed means I lose creativity of my students. For instance, take the photo above. The real task is for this mouse to work through the maze to find the cheese. He (yes, I am guessing it’s a male mouse) uses his instinct of smell and walks the maze until running into a dead end and turns around. A student, on the other hand, uses a set of strategies taught to him to find the end result of whatever teacher generated task in front of them.

Back to the mouse, if the mouse abandons his initial strategy or sense of smell does he fail to find the cheese? According to the photo, the mouse found the prize.

Now back to the student, if a student finds an alternative method to displaying mastery of an objective or skill, but is limited when it comes to the standardized test format — is he showing growth?

According to quantitative data, the growth is not always evident, but growth is occurring (and teachers know it).

Overall, quantitative data cannot always display the unique learning opportunities and the growth occurring inside the walls of your classroom. However, one should share your successful “growth opportunities” whether it’s in an informal conversation with colleagues, a phone call to the student’s parents, or in a blog post. Many of the hidden gems in teaching are never seen by those outside the door of your classroom.

Reflect and celebrate upon the successes — quantitative and qualitative — because the small things will make the big challenge in the horizon easier to get to and more enjoyable.



About briancookeducator

Husband, Daddy, teacher, #Mountaineer, coach, and aspiring school leader | Thoughts are my own.
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