Thursday, September 3, 2020

Why I don't do RRR days anymore (kind of)

 Previous posts

  1. Everyone needs a little R, R, and R
  2. R, R, R update
RRR was a plan/activity/what not that I came up with many years ago. I presented it to my team as we embarked into Standards Based Grading and it was incredibly useful. In the past two years, however, I have all but stopped using it. In fact, last year I did not have a single RRR day for my kids. So, what changed? 

The original idea behind the RRR day (originally rest, reach, and remediate) was to allow students who were comfortable with material to get enrichment, students who had missed work to catch up, and students who needed individual support to get it. This is, as any teacher will tell you, no easy task on the best of days. With ~30 students in a room it can be quiet difficult. So, as we worked with my original framework, we experimented with a few things:
  • making a list of activities students needed to do for each standard - This was always outside of normally assigned work. The problem with this is that it put exponential amounts of work on us to create these new materials. 
  • making a list of options for students for each standard - This was easier in that I would provide a choice of a general activity (e.g. make a comic strip of our most recent story), but still required extra work on my part. It also sparked questions and, on occasion, confusion for students. 
  • RRR days on a schedule - Originally I really wanted to do these days every other week. The problem I found was that some students developed a sense of entitlement that we'd have this day and they didn't need to pay attention or work any other day because they could just get me to explain it to them on this day. For other students, the entitlement came in the form of wanting a "day off".*
  • Extra Grading - This was a major issue. I would find myself grading entire assignments just to move a grade from a 99 to a 100. Again, some sense of entitlement came out when, a few times, a student would say that I was preventing them from having a 100 or ruining GPA because I wasn't giving them a perfect score on RRR work: "But... I did the thing. That's a 100 right?"

* I don't use the word entitlement easily. It is a word often used against my generation. I want to be clear that I always try to give students the benefit of the doubt for as long as I can. Once a pattern becomes apparent, however, I will take appropriate action. 

So, I got rid of it. I started by saying that we'd have an RRR day when the grades showed we needed it. This didn't go over too well for some students. I found myself battling between letting certain students have a "free day" so that I could work with others and give them the support they needed. I was suddenly trying to manage behaviour while trying to do good work with students who needed it. 

And so, last year, I decided I would not do a single RRR day. Not a single one. Now, let's break that down. Let me address some of the very questions I got when I announced this to students:
  1. So does this mean we can't redo any work? No, not at all. There will always be opportunities for resubmission and opportunities to try again. It will, however, look different. 
  2. What about free days? I think I may have laughed out loud. I'm not super proud of that.... but I did. I don't do movies 99% of the time. The exception to this is that I occasionally do a movie short and sometimes I'll show an episode of Class of the Titans (NOT Clash). Even then, they don't take the entire period. This is not a slight on teachers who do show movies. I have on occasion shown one. It is a reflection, rather, of what I think I can do better. I can do a better job supporting the students in my room. That is what I'm always working on: how better can I support the students I see in my room. 
  3. But XX does RRR days!?!?! And that's fine. My teammates can still do RRR, and some do. For me, I feel I can meet my students needs better in a different way now.
But... how did I address all the concerns that RRR is meant to address? Well...
  • I always reserve the right to let students resubmit the exact same assignment at any time. If a student needs to fix something, or understands something new that they didn't before, of course I'm going to let them redo an assignment. I reserve this, however, and this is not available for every thing every day. This is simply for my sanity. 
  • Instead... I ensure that I make plans to reassess things as part of class. If I notice that a majority of students did poorly or missed something I will adjust and reassess again shortly after (see post: the fault in our plans)
    • Sometimes I'll even say, "check your grades. If you are missing or would like me to reconsider your grade for Standard XX, make sure you turn this in. 
  • I set my focus on accommodations. My focus is becoming more and more centralised on what accommodations I need to make for any and all of my students. Some of these include small group or one on one instruction, alternative formatting, student choice, representation, etc. 

Ultimately I am doing a little bit more to make sure that students are accommodated in my class. By doing that and regularly reassessing through my lessons, we don't need to set aside a day for them to catch up and I ultimately have less work overall. Now, if we needed one, I would have no problem doing so. But I've found that I can accomplish RRR without needing to set aside a day 99.9% of the time simply by focusing my day on accommodations. If you're sensing a shift in the way I talk about things and how I go about things, you are correct. It's a shift I've always been pointed towards, but now I am actively on this path and I haven't ever loved my job more. <3

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