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Aurora Institute

Competency-Based Education: Learn From My Follies

CompetencyWorks Blog


Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Rethink Instruction

I had a conference with a parent this morning. I love meeting parents and talking with students, and I try to avoid the typical rhetoric that goes along with these interactions in favor of rawness.

This student hadn’t really done much towards meeting his competencies. He was a in-and-out kind of student. I called him on it, and his behavior totally changed today. I hope tomorrow bodes well also!

There’s a fine line between expecting students to fill in competency gaps using feedback and just mailing them a bobcat. I haven’t found that line perfectly yet, but I can’t help but believe that a more psychologically-sound how-to-teach-responsibility has to somehow distill out of this zaniness.

Will students truly learn to value feedback as the currency of learning rather than points or grades? As I leave something like 75-100 text/video comments each day, I have to hope so.

And then you get this email:

Mr Cornally, I uploaded a paper I wrote last night to BlueHarvest. I’m going to be gone the rest of the week for state Jazz, and I’m bummed because I think my paper is really good and I want to talk to you about it and maybe get something check off [marked proficient, in our parlence]. Can you please leave me some feedback before Friday so I can revise it at while we’re at contest?

This student has crossed the Feedback Threshold (FeedThresh, as we call it). He:

  • Knows that first attempts are rarely perfect, and often require serious revising.
  • Wants expert feedback on work that is established and based on research and the literature.
  • Knows that his learning is not tied to class time or any other arbitrary unit of time or space.

The small victories, right? I feel kind of like Hawkeye shooting arrows at the end of The Avengers. Look at me, I’m helping! right? Right?

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This is re-posted with permission from Shawn Cornally’s website Think Thank Thunk.