So a lot has been going on my mind since our last F2F on Friday and have really been thinking about how much I am doing towards my research question and if I am doing enough. This thought was going through my head while looking at the piles of marking I had on my desk and how I found I wasn't having enough time to one on one conference witrh my students about their assignments. You can say that my next move was a slight act of neccesity, mild-panic and desperation but with some forethought I promise! The results made me really happy and I could see that all the work I was doing was making a difference to my students and their mindset about their math abilities. And my coaches will be pleased to hear, on the car ride home all I could think was 'I can't wait to blog about this.'
Basically, today in math class I had both a science and math assignment I wanted to hand back my students and conference about. I announced to the students that this time I would not be calling them up once at a time to show them their work and essentially stare at them while they look over their work, waiting silently while my nervous students reflect and decide how they performed.
Instead, I told my students I was going to hand their work and rubric to them and that I wanted them to take the time to look over my feedback and the rubric. I told them I didn't want to see them until they were confident they could discuss how they thought they did on the assignment and the grade they deserved. Here is what happened.
After about 5 minutes I had students lining up at my desk, what used to be 5 minute conversations turned into 1-2 minute conversations where my students could proudly and assertively say, 'I am here and worked really hard on this', or 'I could have done better on this so I think I'm here.' I felt that this conferencing was much more effective and in less than half the time.
Looking back on it this feels like a 'well duh' situation. My students were given time to reflect at their own pace and not looking to me for hints. They approached me with more confidence and were able to give more reasoning as to why they believed they succeded or where they need to improve. I felt less flustered and was able to enjoy the conversation.
Afterwards I polled the class and asked how they were feeling. I have kept them in the loop on my professional development and they know this is one area I want to work on with them. Compared to our first single-point rubric and math discussion my students said they felt much more confident and aware of what they were doing. There were less questions about 'What was my percentage? Did I get the answer correct?' and more 'I could have expanded on this more to show my thinking'.
To add to this contrast, I have had two new students since December and a lot of this was entirely new to them. Their contrast really demonstrated to me the growth I've seen in my students. I wanted to create a class where students are more confortable taking risks in math and have bought in to the whole learning process. With my new students they had never been asked to reflect on their math responses before. It was entirely new to them.
One student even pointed out, "At my old school they just cared if you got the right answer". I then asked her "What if you got the right answer but don't know why?" she replied with 'That never mattered'.
Basically this to me feels like I'm on the right track and that I can absolutely go deeper. I think this means considering more ways to increase student risk in math that might be outside of assessment. I think I can work more now on discussion prompts or how to incorporate more PBL and open-ended tasks in my day-to-day teaching. A 5 minute conversation with @SirMrMoore on my new unit sparked multiple ideas. I'm excited to see where it will take me.