Teachers teach, but are students learning? It’s a question that has concerned Shelter Island School teachers who have developed a system to make students more responsible for their own education.
It’s not a cookie-cutter system, but one that needs to be adapted to a teacher’s personal skills, the specifics of the subjects they’re teaching and the ages and abilities of students.
Three teachers brought the concept to the Board of Education at the Nov. 14 monthly meeting. Third grade teacher Claire Goehreng explained that the system is designed to increase student engagement, driving them to own their learning experiences.
Art teacher Catherine Brigham uses a simple form that asks each student if they’re understanding information. Her students are asked to assess their own progress in terms of whether they are having difficulty, are working on understanding, or have a sense they can embrace what they’ve been taught.
Students in an art class are asked if they can communicate emotions through use of a monochromatic color scheme; whether they can reflect on their artwork and explain their artistic choices; if they feel ready for each lesson to start with only a single reminder; and if they can stay focused and respectful of themselves and others.
Students are asked if they can use their skills to create finished artwork to share with their families.
Fifth grade teacher Michele Yirce said she can use the system in math, science, reading, writing and character building to assess her students’ progress. She works with each to identify areas where they believe they are competent and other areas where they may need more help.
Not only does it involve each student in their educational process, but provides teachers with valuable information to help students achieve at their best level.
School Board President Margaret Colligan asked if the students are honest in their feedback. Generally, yes, the three teachers agreed, but they have a good handle on which students are getting the concepts and who might be struggling and need more assistance.
Involving the students in the process seems to be a positive step in engaging them in their lessons, the teachers said.