I think that I need some counseling – a reality check, if you will – about the meaning of:
Time is the variable and learning is the constant.
Is it true all of the time, some of the time, regularly with some exceptions, or only applicable to small children learning to walk and talk?
There are deadlines – we have an exam coming up that signifies the end of first semester. So let’s take the idea of unlimited time off the table. What, then, does “Time is the variable and learning is the constant” look like in practice, realistic on-the-ground, in-the-trenches, day-to-day practice?
A child performs poorly on a relatively high-stakes assessment; an assessment that carries a grade that some use to “define” this child. Do we offer this child a mulligan? Do we offer every child the same opportunity for said mulligan? Do we require the “do-over” of this child? Do we require the “do-over” of every child?
Let’s break these questions down with some details and more questions. If we embrace “Time is the variable and learning is the constant”, then YES to the 2nd chance… or…are there more questions to be asked?
- AG was sick the entire week prior to the assessment…mulligan?
- DP is so nice, sweet and tries so hard…mulligan?
- SM was irresponsible having no homework showing no effort…mulligan?
- JH is disrespectful and disagreeable…mulligan?
- RT is misplaced in this course (shh, she just can’t cut it here)…mulligan?
If yes is the answer to any (or all) of the above, is the do-over optional or required?
What about an assessment? Is time a variable? Should AG, DD, SM, JH, and RT be able to (have to) express their learning, understanding, and growth in the same 55 minute time frame?
- AG is a visual leaner; she needs to draw and outline her thinking before documenting it formally.
- DP is a memorizer; as long as there are no curve-balls on the assessment, she is great.
- SM is unprepared but SMART; he can pull the information back, but it is slow going due to lack of practice.
- JH checks his work on every question; he is determined not to make a mistake.
- RT is carrying a heavy personal load at home and can’t concentrate; everything is a struggle.
Do we provide these students additional time to show and document their current level of ability, work, and understanding, or at the end of the period, is time up? Does it matter which child you are? Does knowing more about why the additional time is needed change your feelings about providing additional time? (What if you can’t know every child’s story?)
The two latest arguments being discussed within my team are that we were not preparing our students to take the SAT if we give them additional time and that something is wrong if you can’t do the work in the given time-frame. I don’t wake up every morning planning to improve the future SAT scores of my 8th grade students; should I? How will I know what is wrong if I can’t see this child’s work? How will this child know what is wrong if they are not given the opportunity to “fall down”? What am I unintentionally teaching by providing or denying additional time?