Imagine the horrifying moment in a parent’s life when they realize their child doesn’t know something really basic, say, where to put a stamp on an envelope (yep, that one is true). How about activating a credit card? (also true) You’d think the big white sticker on the front would be self-explanatory, wouldn’t you? Or sending a transcript? When you’ve asked 5 times? (afraid so)
Can you tell I’m sending a kid to college?
Let me give you a bit of background- My oldest is a pretty awesome kid. Graduated summa cum laude, 60th in her class of 375, got into every school she applied to, and is going to college with 18 hours of dual credit under her belt. Smart kid, right? She doesn’t drink, she doesn’t stay out late, she doesn’t run around at all hours of the day…basically, she’s a lot of people’s idea of the perfect kid.
She doesn’t do chores when asked, she doesn’t read emails and letters sent to her, she doesn’t eat nutritious food (uh-hm, pizza rolls anyone?), she freaks out when things go wrong, but she doesn’t do the things I tell her to do that will make life easier.
Don’t get me wrong, my kid is AWESOME. She is dark, twisty, and sarcastic (my fault), she is compassionate and caring, she loves spending time with us, and the only thing that worries us about her is the mental health issues that have sprung up this past year (not her fault, maybe mine?).
So I’m about to send this precious baby off to college, where she has to take care of everything because they, quite literally, won’t talk to me about her college stuff since she is 18. And I’m figuring out that there is all this stuff that I thought I taught her that she doesn’t know! How did this happen?
Well, as I always do, I started thinking about how this applies to my students. What have I assumed they know that they actually don’t? How did I assess their knowledge to definitively prove that they not only understand, but can apply what I have taught them? Were the assessments a fair measure for all of them?
You can see how my brain gets in an endless loop, right?
What’s the buzz term? Authentic assessment? What better authentic assessment than real-life application? Do I provide that? (still stuck in the loop- ugh)
I guess the only thing to do is take an objective look at the materials, practices, and assessments that I am giving my students. We’re supposed to do that anyway, but do we? I know I’m asking a lot of questions in this post, but as teachers, we are supposed to evaluate ourselves constantly so that we are meeting our students’ needs. Engagement is also a term that gets thrown around a lot, and if we combine authenticity with engagement, then we usually end up teaching the kids something that will apply to the real world.
This is my goal every day-
I know I don’t always accomplish this goal, but I’m more aware than ever that this IS THE GOAL. Excuse me while I go give my plans for next year another look…