Friday, October 28, 2016

So just now I was thinking... are my Habits of Work grades helpful, harmful, or a waste of time?

by jessica maciejewski

If you're thinking, "Habits of Work seems like a shady, character-based rando category," it's one that my department had in place and that I at first wasn't that into either. However! I've already been doing character work for the last two years based on the KIPP character traits and the amazing book How Children Succeed: grit, curiosity, and the hidden 
power of character by Paul "my last name is awesomely ironic" Tough, and since I believe in mastery teaching, it all comes together. As long as kids have turned in a draft or whatever on time, they can redo or retake the assessment later. But this makes some kids feel like, "Hey! I can turn all of this in the week before midterms!" which is not cool and also not fair to me. So first drafts are due, class time encourages completion, and Habits of Work means no A unless you're doing stuff on time and being a generally good participant and respectful person.

Why would I include those "soft skills"? Because they're what most of us are required to do for our jobs. A lot of our graduates are hitting college heartbreak hard when they find out that no, their professor will not take late work whatsoever, and no, there is no "retake center." I want to do right by them, and that means this is a piece of the pie. Check out three of KIPP's adorable and useful character posters, with description and the rest of the 7 here: KIPP character traits


In talking about this with colleagues, one idea was a progressive late work policy over their four years, from no penalty (just noted) to not being accepted. While some college professors may accept late work, many (most?) do not... and most work places aren't cool with you doing things when you feel like it, either. Okay, so what does this look like for me? Along with those posters & minilessons (which are still works in progress, ideas welcome!), here's the weekly goal sheet and then Quarter 1 reflection I had students do:

Want to know more about this so-called character work? Check out my posts on character and grading.

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