The second part of Tucker’s issues (see Day #127 – 61 Day Journey, Part 1 of 3) revolves around his need for relevance.
Dr. Bill Daggett is the Founder and Chairman of the International Center for Leadership in Education. When I was working in the K-12 system several years ago we used his ideas of rigor, relevance, and relationships in school improvement and reform efforts. In an interview with Education Week on January 13, 2015 he said, “I created the term rigor and relevance. Relevance makes rigor possible. The problem is that what is relevant to one child is not relevant to the next child, which is why the third R — which is relationships — is so important. Educators need to know why their students are struggling. What conditions are causing that?” (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2012/01/rigor_relevance_relationships_a_interview_with_bill_daggett.html)
The three R’s are an absolute necessity to Tucker’s learning. Getting Tucker to be excited in, and take personal responsibility in his learning is ALL about relevance. This idea of relevance would *most likely* be two-fold. One thing I learned long ago is to be over-prepared when taking Tucker through a process like this…so we had to consider relevance from two angles: why is it relevant now and why is it relevant for my future?
WHY DO I HAVE TO LEARN THIS?
From an early age Tucker couldn’t just be told no. He always needed a reason, an explanation. This was difficult for some people until they realized that upon providing a full explanation of why he couldn’t do something, he wouldn’t do it – ever again.
We had to figure out a way to make his learning relevant – to help him make a meaningful connection to why learning is important – especially when it comes to math.
Action Item #1
I contacted the High School Guidance Counselor in our school district. I told him about Tucker, I told him about the issues we were experiencing. We had a nice conversation about how he could help address the ‘relevance in the future.’ Tucker wants to go to college – even if it’s a stepping stone to get to the O-Line of the Minnesota Vikings.
I am going to discuss what it takes to be a successful college student.
He is going to discuss what it takes to be a successful high school student that can get into college.
He is going to discuss what it takes to be a successful middle school student that will lead to success in high school.
See the pattern there? We can help Tucker understand that his behaviors/learning are relevant to his future.
How did the High School Guidance Counselor react to our request for help? He jumped at the chance. He also has a 7th grade daughter and is a coach. Tucker will naturally gravitate to him because of their mutual love of sports – and the counselor will be able to have a unique understanding of what Tucker is learning in school because of his daughter.
There was only one problem. I knew it would be most effective if Tucker actually went to the high school and met with the counselor in his office….during the school day – when he should be in class.
Hmmmm…what did I do?
I’m pretty gutsy and have long-lived with the mantra, “What’s the worst that can happen? Someone say no? Okay then…”
So I sent the message to his entire team, the school principal, and the behavioral interventionist. Within a couple of hours I heard from most of them. ‘No problem.’ ‘What a fantastic idea to actually take him to the High School, it will make it real for him.’ ‘Excellent idea in preparing him for the next step of life.’
No worries – the meeting has been set. All on board.
Now…how do I help him understand that what he is learning now is necessary for next week, and the next, and the next. Well, I know Tucker thrives on schedules and plans. He loves charts and graphs and maps – any visual method of organizing information.
Did you know that school don’t just haphazardly teach stuff? There is a plan – a K-12 plan and that plan is cared for by a curriculum director (usually).
Action Item #2
I contacted the school’s curriculum director at our school district and told her about Tucker’s ‘relevance’ issues. I asked her if she would be willing to share the documents with me. Of course she replied, “Yes!”
She has sent me the district’s complex curriculum documents that show the intricacies of the learning progressions K-12. I am working on paring it down to make it understandable and readable to a 7th grader.
We are going to meet – with Tucker.
Why? Tucker has always needed to know the plan. He doesn’t like surprises – last week I ‘surprised’ him by taking him to the movie store. He tried to open the door half-way there because I wouldnt tell him where we were going (granted he had his seat belt on). I don’t know why I didn’t see this moment coming. I’m nearly positive that if I show him how everything is connected that it will make sense to him.
How did the Curriculum Director react to our request for help? She replied, “Absolutely.” She has a 7th grade son that is a friend of Tucker’s. Sitting down and being able to ask why he has to learn something and what difference it makes? I’m positive it will help him to understand where he is now is leading him to grander things (like Calculus…barf…oh wait…I mean…yeah!).
Read tomorrow’s blog to find out how we are approaching issue three, ‘I’m tired of being different.’