Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Measurable Objectives?

Part of being a school which implements the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme is identifying a student each month who exemplifies one of the learner profile traits that the IB MYP has prescribed.

Full Disclosure: I am not a fan of the IB MYP, and I believe that character education is best conducted at home or in context, and I also agree with Alfie Kohn that awards are more effective in reinforcing the authority of those who grant them than for praising those we intend to commend or encouraging their peers to be more successful. BUT, A few years ago, in an attempt to make these monthly recognitions more meaningful for the students, our team implemented a peer nomination form. The teachers still made the final designation, but it was based on what the kids wrote.

Has the process improved since then? It's hard to say. Many 11-year-olds are still inclined to nominate their friends, if not the person sitting next to them at the moment they are offered the opportunity. They are kids, after all, and they don't fully understand their role in the process, but teaching them that is part of what we do.

Often, we adults are tempted to dismiss their nominations for those very reasons, and in the interest of time and efficiency, we want to designate a student ourselves. Then, too, we feel compelled to take into consideration the demographics of just who is winning these awards. Are there too many girls? Too few minority kids?

In the end, it seems like the objective, if there ever was one, is lost. A name is read on the announcements, a certificate is granted, a photo is posted on the school web site, and then we all move on to the hundreds of other things that occupy our days.

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