Do it Again

And again. And again. And again.

This is the third time the diagram of a local food chain and food web has been submitted to me. Each time comments have directed the necessary corrections. Each time the corrections are minimal, not carrying the changes out through the entire document. This time it’s tempting to say “Oh well. Good enough”. However, this task fulfills an IB assessment statement and might appear on the IB paper when this student sits the final exam. It’s almost painstaking to emphasize my previous comments and point out that the changes aren’t sufficient. The work needs to be deeper, more thorough, and more precise.

This time I opt to have an interview with the student. Understanding claims to be present, however, we’ll see what the results are next week.

In another class,“Show your work.” On the redo the work is only partially there. And the answer is still incorrect. Resubmission. “Show your units.” She adds her units but she still doesn’t see her error until it’s pointed out that she’s dividing cm by mm. “Oh”. Finally, on the fourth try she gets it. Proudly smiling she passes her work to me, “Now I get it!”

You know, it would be easier to just “let it go”.  In a way, it could be argued that my part’s done.  Differentiated learning has been provided. Formative assessment has directed the lessons, the plans, and discussions. Feedback has been given all along the way. The students have been exposed to diverse learning opportunities. They truly have everything they need in order to know what they need to know and have been given every opportunity to learn it. So, I could justify giving them the test and just moving on. However, that’s not the point, is it?  The point is to aid every student in achieving the standards. Some remain unready so they’ll need to do it again. Others may move ahead with deeper, enriching activities that must be planned and coordinated to fit into the unit in a timely manner.

Again, it would be so much easier to just test everyone and move on.  Getting things right takes effort.  Getting students to get things right also takes effort.  A lot of effort. For everyone. My favorite question (not really) is, “What if I just take the grade as it is?” Some students are actually willing to just take a lower grade rather than put forth the effort to master the material.  Their faces always drop when I reply, “That’s not an option.  Currently this assignment is incomplete and not in a state acceptable for assessment”. They grudgingly plow forward.

However, the beaming response when a student hands in, after several modifications, an assignment he can be proud of, we both feel a sense of accomplishment. Our congruent thoughts to “just give up” vanish.  And, I realize, it is worth it. 

The message I hope students receive is that they are capable and that with perseverance they can accomplish things they didn't beforehand think possible. If we as teachers and parents keep working with them, they will grow and develop and learn. They will reach heights even we didn't realize achievable. So, keep at it. Make them do it right, even when you're exhausted. It is worth it.