Competency-Based Education: Learn From My Follies

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.

xkcd explains feedback perfectly.

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?