Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Is a B- okay?

So,  yesterday I caught up with some of my friends who managed to complete the 30 blog post in 30 days challenge by TeachThought.   I started to write (unfortunately, I completed the 30th blog post on day 37, not day 30).   If 30 in 30 is 100% success, I would assume 30 blog post in 37 days is 81%.  So if numbers matter, I give myself a B- on this challenge.  

What stopped me from completing 30 in 30?

Many of my reflections took me down a road that was intriguing and I kept going.  Hours later I took the time to add hyperlinks and look for pictures that would make it more visually attractive.  I remember, a well known education blogger preaching that we all should blog and that it only takes him 10 minutes to whip up a blog post.  Well, it DOESN'T take me 10 minutes!  And sometimes it doesn't take our kids 10 minutes to complete the assignment that we think should only be 10 minutes of homework.

I remember a story my son was writing in 4th grade.  After an hour he still was not done his homework.  He was working from a story map he had created in class, and he was only on the second item of his story map at bedtime, but had 5 pages written.  I tried to convince him that he could hand it in tomorrow and  call it a Chapter of a book.   Frustration and tears were certainly part of our bedtime routine that night, yet when I read through his 'chapter'  my eyes filled with pride at the amazing detail in his writing and and the way his writing lead the reader to visualize the scene.  How many times have the  'parameters' we set resulted in lost opportunity.   Sometimes those parameters are set by others, sometimes by ourselves.

But I think its important to keep an eye out for times when we (or our students)  might be better off extending the deadline parameter to produce something deeper, more inspiring,  or even something different.

Another thing that kept me from completing 30 in 30 is that I am the type of person that takes side trips in my journey and sometimes I get lost in the inspiration of those side trip and don't make it back on the trail quickly.  During this past month,  I have had many of those side trips, and most of them have been so enriching that I would NOT want to have missed any of them.  (Like a sudden inspiration to do a communal 3D printer build at Champlain Maker Faire).    We need to encourage more side trips in our learning journey, and that probably won't happen as we refuse to accept 'late' assignments.

Photo Credit
Recently my friends encouraged me to join them for a 25K cross country ski tour.  It took most people 4 hours;  it took me 6 hours.  I discovered that a very old injury to my lower back was aggravated by the motion my body made going uphills.   At the 20K marker,  some suggested I grab a ride home from the snowmobile taxis that were there to taxi folks.  I refused.  "I made it this far, I'm going to cross that finish line!" I answered stubbornly.

I'm okay with accepting a B- because I understand my own goals and can appreciate my own learning and can move on to the next exciting piece of learning that life's journey will bring.  But to many of our students (and educators)  a B- means you are not 'quite'  where you need to be.    What can we do as educators to keep an eye for those students whose would be discouraged by that B-?  How can we keep an eye out for lost opportunities from the students who will always score an  "A"?

The parameters of this challenge kept me going at a pace that I would not have kept up with, had it not been for wanting to cross the finish line.  But the ability to balance other's expectations and your own expectations for when and how to make it across the finish line is an important part of learning!  Let's help learners cross their personal finish lines!

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