As I work through my third week of school, I finally feel like things are settling down a bit. From the whirlwind first three days, to the introduction of genius hour, and time spent getting to know my kids, we are ready to get into a bit of a routine. This week, I am introducing my learning contract for our first thematic unit. I enjoy giving my kids a contract for each theme to allow them to drive their learning experience, find good practice and resources, and gain essential feedback prior to our summative assessments.
I love to see the student responses once I show them that the ownership is theirs. Fear and anxiety always appear – concerned that they won’t make the right decisions about practice or pacing. I remind them that this is my role. I will help them when they feel stuck, guide them when they feel lost, encourage redos and retakes whenever necessary, and further them on the road to autonomy in their learning. That is our job in high school, is it not? Before we send our kids on to colleges, universities, the military, trade school, or the workforce, don’t we want to make sure they know how to learn on their own?
The first theme/contract is always a precarious one. I need to give them autonomy and control while showing them all the resources, practice, and feedback available. What I usually end up doing is meeting with small groups of kids to offer suggestions and give some feedback not only about their Spanish, but also their decisions on practice and assessment. I talk to them about practicing until they feel ready for an assessment, and remind them they should be retaken until they reach the level of proficient or distinguished.
I also want to make sure that I infuse some incredible learning experiences for my kids this year. Experiences that we share together no matter where each individual student is on their journey. This is something I struggle with as I need to let my kids grow, improve, and learn at their own pace, yet want collective experiences as well. I do have deadlines for my assessments each theme (although they can retake after the deadline to improve their mastery) so I am thinking I could capitalize on the days following those deadlines to create some unique adventures where we apply what we have learned. Stay tuned for those, creative ideas take time to develop!
Here’s to a routine, but holding a few tricks up my sleeve to keep them on their toes!