Responsibility of the Learner

This week our conversation has centered on the phrase, “Whatever it takes–that’s the job of the teacher.” Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we read “with the grain,” accepting the text for what it said, challenging ourselves with how we can add one more thing in our pursuit to do “whatever it takes.”

Today, we read “against the grain” and challenge the idea. And I will bring into the conversation a book I have picked up for summer readingVisible Learning for Literacy.

When I first read that phrase, “Whatever it takes,” I’ll admit, I was angry. Here’s why. When I step back and look at all my commitments–full-time teaching, marriage, three kids, involvement at church, active in the community where I live–I do a lot of juggling, blending, and balancing to do get it all done. And when someone comes along and says “whatever it takes” to me, in the midst of all I do, it comes across as holier-than-thou moralizing while wagging your finger at me.

If you read the earlier posts, clearly, I got over that initial anger. But, even then, I noticed something else was bothering me. And here it is:

What about the student? Are the students doing “whatever it takes?”

I have been part of meetings where student results come back below what we were expecting, and questions were asked about what interventions we can add to help the students succeed. What else could be done? That’s a good question to ask, but how many interventions are too many? Where is the line where we can look at what the teacher did, what the student did, and say, “Yep, that teacher did everything she could and the student did not respond.”  Continue reading “Responsibility of the Learner”

Grading – Whatever It Takes

If you’re joining us for the first time this week, on Monday and Tuesday we were exploring the statement “Whatever it takes–that’s the job of the teacher.”

Let’s turn to the topic every English teacher loves to hate: grading. Years ago a friend of mine said, “I teach for free; grading is what I get paid for.” That’s how I try to see it. Now doing “whatever it takes” when it comes to grading is really a matter of deadlines. That’s the only time I am ever going to say that I need to do “whatever it takes.”  Continue reading “Grading – Whatever It Takes”