Competencies

Its been so long since I’ve blogged that I had to look up my password.

One of the many reasons for my little hiatus is that there are plenty of UH-MAZING blogs out there– that people actually follow and read– making what I think and wonder and write about rather…superfluous.

For example, Ilana Horn’s insightful, intelligent, inspirational blog.  Informed and intriguing.   I recently started following, and back-read several posts she has written on status in the classroom, in part because I believe know status is deterimental to equitable learning yet is created and deeply ingrained and even actively perpetuated in the Old School system/institution of teaching and learning.  She explains it all  very clearly in a series of posts:

Status: The Social Organization of “Smartness”

Seeing Status in the Classroom

What Does it Mean to be Smart in Mathematics

Recognizing Smartness and Addressing Status in the Classroom

This morning (since I kind-of overdid it hauling bark dust yesterday), I decided to chill a bit and create a list of competencies I value in my classroom.  Not besides “fast calculations and right answers”, but instead of.  A definite and requisite shift in classroom currency if one is striving to achieve an active and equitable learning culture.

In no particular order….

Curiosity.
Perseverance.
Observation.
Students in the role of sense-makers.
Connections between mathematical ideas.
Connections between representations and models.
Clear communication of thinking (the WHY), even if incomplete or unsure.
Active and intentional listening to all peers.
Self-reflection.
Metacognition.
Multiple strategies and solution paths.
Gaining insights by making mistakes.
Willingness to revise thinking and understanding.
Great respect for the value of every person, their learning, and the strengths they already have.
Genuine Questions and Wonderings.
Collaboration in learning as a community.
Flexible thinking.
Creative thinking.
Visual/alternative representations of reasoning and ideas.
Connections between multiple representations.
Connections between different strategies.
Patience.
Perplexity.
AHA and WTF* moments.
Growth.
Active awareness and regulation of learning.
Attention to reasonableness of solutions (yours and others’).
Private time to think (and respecting it).
Critique of thinking, reasoning (not people).
Critical and deep thinking.
Understanding the thinking of others, even when it differs from your own.
Respectful disagreement.
Respect for (and celebration of) strengths and strategies that differ from one’s own.
Genuine/legitimate peer support in learning.
Growth mindset.
Engagement and involvement.
Willingness to start even if you are not sure.
Equitable collaboration.
Consideration of ideas other than your own.
Ability and willingness to adjust your reasoning/opinion and change your mind.
Learning from peers.

Wow, that list is a lot longer than I expected.  Which would you add, revise, or omit?  Why?

Here’s what I might do with such a list.  At the beginning of the school year, cut it up and have students in small groups sort them into 2-5 or so categories, their choice.  Sorting activities are a worthwhile way to get kids talking to each other, voicing opinions, making choices.  Listen in, because you’re finding out about them, too.  Notice common choices as well as different ones.  Ask groups to explain their categories to you.

Then, as a whole class, share and discuss.  Ask them to notice things.  I have NO IDEA what will happen here, but I’m wondering if anyone will notice that “right answers”, “smart”, “good grades”, “fast thinking” and those types of competencies typically over-valued (and detrimental to learning) are MISSING.  So are generic behavior-type rules, like arrive on time, do your homework, pay attention….Will they notice the focus on inclusiveness and learning instead of on first and fastest?  Will they identify with some of them?  I’m really curious about how kids will sort these and what they will say!  Finally (if there are enough common themes?), use their input to develop a SHORT list of classroom norms that recognize and support these valuable competencies.

 

 

*Probably should change this to WTH What the Heck, or HIW Hold it, What!? Or some such thing more socially appropriate, right?

WTF moments are not moments of frustration, though.  They are moments of realizing something is amiss, some reasoning, intuition, or process is not going the way you expected, or the solution make no sense.  Disequilibrium and perplexity reside here.  In a sense, these moments are insights, too, a realization that an adjustment is needed;  understanding WHY one path works and the other does not paves the way to the bigger insight (AHA!) and gains in learning and understanding.  When students people share their thinking, they tend to leave the WTF moments out and share only what worked, saving face and strengthening the currency of “right” answers.  However, in a healthy, inclusive culture of learning, WTF moments are valued as an important and natural part of the learning process, worthy of sharing, even celebrating!   “First, we thought….because….then we. saw…realized…tried….because….figured out….learned….”. Even “First we tried….because…not working……and now we wonder….not sure….have some questions…..”

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