What happens when we raise the bar?

This week we had another COTL (Community of Teachers Learning) meeting before school. Our usual small but cozy group of teachers gathered in our library, ready to start the day by writing and reflecting. Our leader, Dawn, brought the inspiration and writing prompts. One of the quotes she shared was from Gravity Goldberg’s book, Mindset and Moves.

Any kind of change can feel daring and quite vulnerable. When we are vulnerable we learn to trust people. We are connected and able to show up ready to share all we have to offer. 

Our writing invitations included:

  • Write about a time you were highly engaged and motiveated. Did it lead to ownership and autonomy?
  • Write about a change you have taken on this year. What have you discovered about yourself, class, or a particular student?
  • Choice

I chose to write about a change taken on. This year, I took on writing conventions with our K and 1 teams. Not my favorite area of focus, but important nonetheless. Using the TC rubrics for writing, we saw that using proper capitalization and punctuation was an end of the year goal for kindergarten. “Impossible,” many teachers retorted. Yet, they took on the challenge. We studied ways to “sprinkle” in explicit instruction, opportunities for practice, and ways to hold students accountable towards these goals. We are now at the time in the year where we are able to see the fruits of our labor. I have recently cycled back to grades K and 1 for a coaching cycle and have been awe struck by the change in writing. Kids are developing habits that include proper convention work and the results are readable! Kids are better able to focus on meaning and development, the conventions are coming naturally. While it may be exhausting and redundant to have to remind students over and over again about proper letter formation, to leave spaces between their words, or to use punctuation-all of these conventions help our writing to reach an audience. What we once thought were unrealistic exceptions, now feel attainable. Raising the bar and shifting our attention towards accountability show us what kids are capable of.

Could this lesson be applied to other areas I wonder? What if we continued to raise the bar across the curriculum? What other surprises would we find? What else could we learn? What would that mean for our students? I’d like to find out.

Here’s a link to Dawn’s reflection on the meeting: https://sescotll.edublogs.org/




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