Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday Reflection on PLP Work

Goal Setting - Middle grades teachers help students use strategies to identify, set, and achieve personalized learning goals.

There are a number of standards and proficiencies that are applicable to my work this week. I thought the idea of goal setting was one of several ways to think about the work our team has accomplished. Anna and I have worked on revamping the PLP work our school does (and doesn’t do). Right now, the goals that we’ve set with students feel artificially created (often teacher-driven) and we, as a middle school, don’t revisit student goals often enough -- they’ve become the drivers of our two annual parent conferences, but are often otherwise ignored.

As we come up with a new model for the PLP, we’ve thought about the importance of setting authentic goals with students. We realize -- and in talking to students here, they’ve reinforced that -- there are some goals that are non-negotiable and may be driven by curriculum. But in our research we’ve identified the most engaging and authentic PLPs seem to come from compromise. That is there are academic goals, but there are also non-academic goals that involve citizenship, service, athletics, etc. Those goals often seem to come more naturally from the students themselves. We are hypothesizing that when student investment is high in the goals that come from their interests, they will be more interested in the core academic goals. Also, when possible there might be ways to connect academic goals to the student interests -- for example an argumentative essay might be geared to address a student concern about something they’ve noticed in their community.

The research and discussions that I’ve had this week have given me an opportunity to think about these things more deeply and strategize ways to correct the problem of inauthentic and meaningless PLPs that I’ve noticed since we’ve implemented them at my school several years ago.

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