Today I had a discussion with my fifth graders regarding their report assessment for the current term. It was interesting as well as eye opening to see how the children understand and perceive some of the feedback. My main criteria was to find out if they agree to my feedback and if they don't where do we differ. If I can close down that gap then I can connect better with them.
We discussed what is self regulation, taking challenges, perseverance, staying focused and engaged with work, etc. Most of them agree that they must work on self-regulation, stretch their learning and take up more challenging work. One kid asked me, "Aunty, I take up challenges and work during SDL then why do you report I don't take challenges." I explained to him that he is capable of much more in-depth research and presentation skills although he chose to give superficial work. He agreed and told that it is difficult. We concluded that things get difficult as we grow and move to higher grades but we need to persist and review regularly so learning becomes less difficult and we grow over time in our learning in turn.
One of them was bored because the second language was difficult and so she lost interest in the class which in turn had led to class behavioral issues. The solution, we agreed, in her scenario was to seek additional help in what was difficult and to review the lesson regularly so acquiring new knowledge was easier when prior acquired knowledge was activated by review.
The most surprising fact was that most of them were scared to ask questions in the class. On further probing, I understood that they were scared to ask questions for two reasons: 1. Of being judged by peers as dumb or less smart and 2. Not sure if the question is relevant in context to the class taken.
To overcome this fear we decided to do two things. Those who fear of being judged would note down the question and approach the teacher after the class is over or later. Those unsure would mention that they are not sure if question is relevant or not but would still go ahead and ask that question at the end of the class when time would be allotted to ask questions.
Next, as most of them struggle with writing we discussed the importance of writing work not only as recording our observation, learning, review but also as a way of expressing our opinion, understanding, application, etc.
The most heartening thing that came out of the discussion was the children were able to articulate their fears and needs, chose to disagree with the teachers feedback and sought to clarify but the best achievement for me was that they were all willing to put an effort to focus on their learning and take responsibility for it. What would I want more as a teacher, SubhanAllah.
By Naqeeb Sultana
Middle School Faculty