Sunday, December 27, 2009

Relationship...the most important "R".

My nephews are huggers. At Christmas and other family gatherings they want a hug, they expect a hug, maybe they need a hug. They are about relationships, much like most of the students in our classrooms today.

I'm either a late Baby Boomer or an early "Gen Xer". I have a lot of "whatever" in me and I expended a lot of energy avoiding my teachers, parents, any adult who wanted to get closer to me. YET, it were those adults that engaged me and prodded, poked and insisted they try to break through my shell that I remember and who influenced my life the most.

Today's students are more open to involvement and engagement for the most part, but are in a lot of cases being taught by teachers who are not. Out of the old three "Rs" - Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic (Kinda says something that two of the three do not begin with R) and the new "Rs" - Rigor, Relevance and Relationship, I feel the last (Relationship) is the most important. And maybe we have data to support that statement.

A year ago we were both happy and concerned after breaking down our ITED scores. We had jumped above state-set trajectory levels in all three of our subject areas, Math, Reading and Science.

So initiatives in Reading and Math were either tweaked or created. Although I was pleased with the ideas (Not relevant to my post today) they were only going to have 2-3 months under their belts with them before the next round of high stakes testing.

I had requested our counselor develop and administer a survey to students on ITEDs and organize the homeroom teachers to review past scores, set goals, and talk to students on how to effectively take the ITED test and why it was important - "to them".

We showed them we could project ACT & SAT performance, but only if they relaxed and tried their best. Our counselor effectively developed and worked with our teachers to administer this right before testing time.

Our Juniors came through. Our reading landed 20 points above the projected mark, at 82; Science was a gaudy 86; and Math was eight above the projected, coming in at 73.

Research would back that our initiatives hadn't had the time to effect the scores that much. With a school our size I feel I can infer that our increase was due to the fact more kids took the tests seriously and gave their best effort.

It's my contention we can draw a line between students trying harder and the relationships and engagement they were receiving from our teaching staff in homeroom and in the classrooms.

We didn't look at it from a "school" perspective, rather a "student" perspective...which is was these dang tests are supposed to be used for in the first place.

We took the time to engage the students and tried to help them frame it from their perspective.

Relationship...the most important "R".

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