I have been reading the book Passionate Learners by Pernille Ripp this summer and participating in a book study with some of my colleagues. Thus far it has provided some great ideas and reminders to reflect on for the fall and has also been a great affirmation of what we do in our classrooms and schools.
A concept that has come up more than once in the book is that we cannot successfully become a copy of someone else. There are so many great ideas, methods, and practices out there – I cannot count the number of times I have thought ‘I can’t wait to try that when I get back to school!’ I would want to write down as much as possible about what I saw or heard to replicate it for my students. But I was forgetting something. We need to take all the fantastic ideas, methods, and practices that are out there and make them our own. Simply taking an idea that works for someone else and their students and implementing it in the exact same way will not necessarily elicit the results we desire
When I moved away from the traditional grading paradigm, I didn’t just read one book, follow it exactly, and expect good results. I read a bunch, relied on my background knowledge, knowledge of my students, knowledge of myself as an instructor, and put it all together. I took some ideas from Robert Marzano, others from Ken O’Connor, some from Thomas Guskey, and a few more from Rick Wormeli. I could keep going with the authors that have shaped my practice and continue to do so, but I am not sure where that list stops, so we will move on.
Looking back, it was so important for me to take the ideas I found, reflect upon what I knew, and then make some decisions about how to proceed. I don’t feel I would have been as successful with my transition if I treated standards based grading as a one size fits all type of change and simply mimicked the shift someone else made. Actually, I’ll go one step further and say I know it wouldn’t have been as successful of a change for me if I didn’t make it my own.
The more I get to talk with teachers and schools who are making this change, the more I know we need to do our research, talk things over, consider all the stakeholders, and move forward from there. There is no one right way to make the change, and we cannot take someone else’s transformation and blindly apply it to our situation. There is a new level of ownership once the idea evolves from something developed outside our walls to something created and honed from the inside.
“…when you blindly adapt someone else’s program you start to lose your professional identity.” – Pernille Ripp (Passionate Learners, p.3)