Last week I wrote about the final phase of rigor and what that involves. As the two previous phases point out, it is not simply to teach and expect students to learn. The final phase is the assessment of the degree to which students achieve standard mastery. True assessment of academic rigor is for the teacher to provide students with various opportunities to demonstrate their degree of mastery. This demonstration is a balance of formative and summative assessments.
This week let’s explore the relevance of our lessons and how coupled with rigor our students may be able to exceed our expectations. We need to work to develop a relevant environment, where relevant teachers can teach relevant curriculum. When I think of relevance, I think of the students, the adults they interact with and the teachers’ tools of the trade. Our children have watched an average of 4,000 hours of television or played 5,000 hours of video games prior to entering our schools. Dr. Bryan Brown, Associate Dean for Student Affairs of Stanford University, talks about 10 minute segments of death that educators battle against. These segments are video games that “level up” every ten minutes and children’s television which goes to commercial every ten minutes.
So how can we make our environments relevant when we have to compete with that? WE can make our learning environments relevant by establishing the essential routines and procedures our students need to find success. We can make our environments relevant by building the parent / child relationships that allow for both success and times of reflection. We can make our environments relevant by truly getting to know our students. Knowing them intimately as we know our own children. Finding out what motivates and inspires them to be their best self. Relevance must also seek to understand the cultures from which we all come from
Cultural relevance to me is twofold. First it’s about getting to know students and the cultures they come from. Too often we lump everyone into groups that are truly contradictory to cultural relevance. Asian-American when we know that the Chinese and Japanese don’t get along. Or African-American when we should know that Africans and Americans of African descent don’t see each other as the same. So as we look at cultural relevance we need to recognize the greatness of each individuals and the various cultures they bring to our room. Next, we need to develop the unique cultures of our schools and classrooms that are reflective of the cultures that reside within. We also need to work to develop our own unique culture predicated on inclusivity.
When we take our time to develop culturally relevant classrooms, we are then able to develop inclusive learning environments that embrace us as the adults and support our students. Inclusive environments reflect the individual gifts and talents our students bring that we build off our own gifts and talents.
Next week I’ll continue writing about relevance as it pertains to the community and world we live in. Relevance often leads to project based learning, or experience based learning via a variety of mediums.
Thank you for your tremendous commitment to Every Student, Every Day!
Have a great weekend.
Adam Taylor, Superintendent