Thursday, November 20, 2014

80/20?! What about 20/80?

Do you follow the 80/20 rule in which you expect 80% of your students to achieve mastery of a standard, skill or unit?  I do...mostly.

When starting a unit, I pre-assess my students to find out their understanding of the topic.  After the unit, again I assess and measure growth.  We began two-digit addition with regrouping 5 weeks ago and the results are in folks...only 37% mastery.  Honestly I feel like a failure.  You have had those moments too....right?

So I can't sit back and allow that to be good enough.  I started reflecting on my craft right away and trying to figure out what I could have done and what my next steps are going to be.  I didn't get too far.  New solutions weren't calling out to me.

Fast forward to this evening when I called my dad and after a bit I started talking about my problem. Now my dad isn't an educator and sometimes I wonder if I bug him when I talk school but he had a brilliant solution.  He broke it down and said,

                      "How many did you want to pass?" At least 80%.  
                      "How many did you expect to pass?" 70%  (that was a hopeful on my part)
                      "How many did you expect to do better than they did?" Four or five.

His advice after listening was that I need to focus on the students that I expected to do better than they did.  Seems simple, right?  I had a why didn't I think of that kind of moment.

Sometimes I get so caught up in supporting the lowest quartile that I let moments with the majority of my class pass by.  I don't think I will fix this problem overnight.  I want everyone to succeed and I feel like there isn't enough of me to go around.

What I can do is work with those students who I expected to do better.  The students that are so close to mastery but didn't reach it this time.  I can help them strengthen their skills quickly.

And I'll do what I always do when I don't know...get advice from an expert by reading.  So here's what I'll be reading tonight (it's a wonderful book).

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