I had a dream. It wasn’t a famous one like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, and it wasn’t that scary one where I’m being chased by something evil and have lost the ability to run and to yell for help. It was actually a very simple dream that took place at a faculty meeting. (I know you may be thinking that this is sounding more and more like a nightmare, but hang in there.) At this faculty meeting, our principal asked us to evaluate our individual progress on a new school initiative. She asked us to rate ourselves on a scale of 1-3. This seems easy enough–like something we might do at any faculty meeting–like something that we’d brush off by either giving ourselves the highest rating, or succumbing to negativity and giving ourselves the lowest rating. However, this dream (as dreams often do) had a twist. The principal gave us a rubric. “These are the expectations you need to be meeting to rate yourself as a 3.”
This wasn’t really a novel situation; teachers use rubrics all the time. Upon waking, though, I had some revelations or reaffirmations about grading. The first thing I noticed about this rubric is that it wasn’t for a grade. There were no grades or evaluations attached. The rubric served a higher purpose–self-evaluation. Seeing the expectations, we were able to gauge our progress toward full and correct implementation of the initiative. We were also able to clarify the principal’s expectations for us in the roll-out of the new initiative.
How often to do we provide our students with the opportunity to gauge their progress against our expectations (without the pressure of grades)? How much benefit could our students derive from this if we did it more often? How about taking some time this week to weave student self-reflection into your plans?