Celebrating the things we don’t measure

It’s that time of year when we take a few moments to stop and reflect. More formally, it’s time for our mid-year reviews to see how we’re going towards our performance and development goals.

One of these goals for me is around ‘student outcomes’ and, every year when I reflect on this, my biggest pondering is what a very, very narrow set of outcomes it is asking me to review. Specifically, the goal asks whether my students have made 6 months’ growth against state standards. I agree that this is certainly something to aim for. Some of them have made more, some have made just that and some have made less. However there are a lot of things these standards and, therefore, this goal, doesn’t measure and here are a few of the ways they’ve grown:

  • how much more my students now speak in weekly literature circle discussions and how well prepared they are for what they want to say;
  • how engrossed they are in reading and how invested they are in the characters they identify with;
  • the quality of their questioning and the deep thinking they do about what they read, identifying themes, ideas and wonderings that hadn’t occurred to me;
  • their heightened understanding of how certain text types can be very powerful and really get things done, as seen through the number of them wanting to write to different levels of government after our parliamentary excursion;
  • their confidence in managing their own learning and identifying their own goals, inside and outside of the classroom;
  • their growing time and resource management skills that now see some of them much more able to find the key items they need at the start of the day and end the day feeling organised;
  • the coping strategies they have developed to deal with their own times of stress or anxiety and which they now avail themselves of without any need for a reminder from me;
  • the empathy they have developed towards not only each other but towards fellow human beings in the world beyond our classroom, as evident in the ideas they have about how they can improve their world for everyone’s benefit.

I know, to other educators, this blog post is nothing new – we all know that the state standards will never capture all the things our students are and do however it’s more a reminder to be kind and fair to ourselves, particularly at these times of year. Our students are growing and developing in ways easily measurable and much less so and we should be proud of them and of our own impact in both sets of skills and attributes.

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2 thoughts on “Celebrating the things we don’t measure

  1. I remember a few years ago, when the new review process came in, I made every effort to stretch what the notion of data. Most teachers just fell into line with the simplicity of one years growth for one years teaching. Although ‘growth’ is important, to only focus on the summative feels like it misses something.

    • Absolutely agree and love that you pushed out the concept of ‘data’. Growth is obviously all of our goal but how that is measured and what it looks like doesn’t fit a certain formula or set of figures.

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