Expectations. The word has joined the list of my least favourites.
What are the expectations for this unit?
What phase are you teaching?
How are you differentiating?
These are the questions my grade 6 colleague and I used to ask each other when we planned together.
There were other questions that naturally arose in staff meetings because we were trying to understand what each grade level should be teaching and assessing.
What phases are you using in grade 4?
How do you split the phases up through the elementary years?
You meet the students where they are and build from there.
But that seems harder to do at first. It seems like it might take more planning and thinking, so I suppose I can understand why a one-size for all lesson plan, watered down or extended for differentiation purposes, is considered easier to offer.
What we’re basically doing though is saying: You’re in grade X now so you’ll be doing this.
But how can that work? Some of my students only started learning English this year. A few have learning difficulties and a few were ticking off the highest phase objectives before the first month had even ended. Even if there wasn’t any of the above to be aware of, they are all at different stages in their learning across the programme, and they all have different things they want to learn and ways to learn anyway.
Cue supposed planning headache.
But I can deal with this. I want to deal with it. Yes, it may require a little extra planning, on my own maybe, but I want to help each student feel like they are progressing, that they are capable, that they can succeed, that they are able to persevere, take risks and take charge of their own learning. I need to do this.
I have to meet them where they are and help them set their own goals. I need to look across the phases and use objectives as a guide for the individuals in my room, so they can show me what they have already mastered and then help them to create personal success criteria which will take them forward when they are ready. I need to help them learn to look for feedback and support when they need it. I need to help them learn at their own pace, in their own way. I need them to be using the word expectations about their own learning.
Expectations. The word won’t go away.
There must be expectations!
How can you not have them?!
How do you know what to teach?!
You meet the learners. They can decide.