My husband has this saying, ‘The world is full of people who can identify problems, there are far fewer people in the world who can actually solve them.”
He’s so right. Yesterday I was having all types of anxiety about conferences (Read Day #62 – Act of Conferencing). The more I thought, the more thought about this – his great saying (he has many of them).
My frustration isn’t in the conference itself or the thinking about it. My problem is that we are REALLY good at identifying problems.
It’s like telling me I should lose a few pounds – no…really?!?! I’m a size 14 (gasp…did I just admit that in public?). I’ve been a size 14 for most of my life. I fluctuate to a ‘tighter 14’ and a ‘looser 14’ but a 14 nonetheless.
It’s like telling a smoker they should stop smoking – no….really?!?! Those white sticks cause cancer? I’m sure they have NO idea…
The world if full of people who can identify problems. Tucker isn’t good at this or that. Yeah? What’s new? I knew that…what steps are we taking to help him get better? Don’t just give me his test results. Don’t just tell me about how close (or far from) ‘normal’ he is. Truly, I’m not interested in that anymore. My mom and I had a wonderful conversation the other night about how it ‘doesn’t matter.’ It doesn’t matter what his ‘diagnosis’ is – we know there is something wonky. It’s easy to identify that…
Now, let’s get to work. Don’t just come at me with the tests and the crap – WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT!?!?!?!
That’s why I’m frustrated. It’s the piece that is often missing. Solving the issue.
Well…last night at 4:00 I walked into the Middle School ready to some solve some stuff.
I had two major goals.
1-Change the rubricing process for Tucker. Do we really know what he can accomplish? I think not. What I see happening is that he meets the minimum criteria so he can move on.
2-Be more intentional about grouping. Because of his social issues – he doesn’t know how to get in groups. So, when he’s a ‘leftover’ he simply joins a group and then takes on those behaviors. Right or wrong…often the ‘leftovers’ are kiddos who aren’t always the most ‘engaged in curriculum.’
My husband and I spent quite a bit of time talking through these two issues.
Regarding #1 – Tucker doesn’t know what ‘give it your best effort’ means. It’s too aloof or qualitative, it is not measurable. He has the cognitive abilities to do MUCH better…but doesn’t really know how. He needs a list, not a rubric. For those of you who may not understand the rubric process – it is a grading mechanism used by many teachers (me included). It’s intent is to help students understand why they earn the score they receive. It looks something like this (see below). Each column is awarded a point value and then teachers are able to check where students fit. The problem is that Tucker sees this as ‘oh…I have to do this column (usually minimal)’ and then I can be done and move on to what I want to do.
Regarding #2 – He melds and molds into whatever group he is in. So, if the prevailing attitude in the group is one of ‘hurry and get done’ or ‘do your best’ he will follow. He doesn’t have the social wherewithal to really understand how being a a specific group can hurt (or help you). Nor does he have the ability to judge another’s character or academic aptitudes (see Day #21 – Homecoming Amens)
So, in I go. Armed with two ideas. Two solutions.
His teachers and I sit. I present idea 1.
His math teacher says, “Yes – I understand this. He doesn’t have the ability to know ‘what his best is.’ I know he can achieve more – but rubrics offers too many choices.”
His social studies studies teacher says, “You know, on his last assignment I had him do more of a checklist and he did really well. That makes sense.”
I present idea 2.
His literacy teacher says, “Yes – he’s in a group now with a couple of really good kids and he’s doing well – that makes sense.”
His science teachers says, “Yep – he doesn’t judge so it makes sense for us to help him make better choices.”
Those probably weren’t their ‘real words’ – but I was in such bliss by all of the yes that I was hearing, I was on Cloud 9.
These are very special people, these teachers of his. They know he can do more and WANT to help him do more. They want to see what he is capable of. He has these teachers for the next two years…I can tell it may be the best two years yet. They are remarkable people who truly believe in him.
We are blessed…they are the solvers of the teaching profession.