Everyone used to joke about the 3 R’s in Education and while they are still important, in 2015 the 3 R’s are Rigor, Relationships, and Relevance. I have adopted this mantra from Gary Willow (always give credit where it’s due) and I am fully invested in this saying. Without these three pieces in school and in classrooms, significant learning will not happen. Sure, some students know how to be compliant and play the game of school but are they fully invested in the class and the learning process.
Rigor- Williamson and Blackburn state that rigor is “creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels”. Rigor is not giving more problems or assigning longer assignments but creating an environment where students can truly demonstrate their knowledge. While I’m writing about demonstrating knowledge, it always makes me think of this (which hangs on my office door) http://www.fortheteachers.org/Graphics/ShowWhatYouKnow.pdf. True/False, multiple choice and fill in the blanks are not great ways for students to show what they know (they can be used for formative assessments but as summative? Think higher and take a risk) but stepping outside the box and having students create or show what they know through other avenues is a great way to assess students. Saying I’ve always given this test at the end of this unit just doesn’t cut it anymore. We live in an era where teachers can access other great teachers instantly and share great ideas and resources; you just have to become a connected educator. Students having choice and showing what they know leads me to…
Relevance- are the topics you’re covering relevant or are they topics you like to teach? How can we make class and lessons relevant? Make real world connections, allow students to use technology (they do everywhere else), allow students choice and/or voice in the assessment, don’t surprise students with a “pop” quiz, allow collaboration, or show students how what they are learning will help them in real life.
Relationships- “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship” Comer. I believe this 100% and this is a fact. Even today as educators and other professional jobs, people work harder for bosses they have a relationship with; a boss they feel values them and their time. I tweeted a quote from John Wink today that said “I never met a kid who wanted to work hard for a teacher he/she didn’t like.” Sure some students are compliant and will work hard in all classes but what about those students who don’t like school or may not receive the support at home? Do you think those students want to work hard for a teacher they do not like or feels cares about them? No but those same students who feel valued and have a relationship with their teacher will work harder for that teacher.
Show students you care about them, hold them to high expectations, and make what you are teaching relevant to them. Sounds like a classroom everyone would want to be in.