Contribution to Learning 5389 (89.5)

As we look at the alternative professional development or professional learning course, it’s time to reflect on my contributions to learning. Admittedly this summer has been an extremely busy summer for me. One of the projects that I’m involved in is setting a long-term professional  development model for staff at our current site. When we return to school in August, myself and my team have been requested by the principal to provide  the initial professional development for our staff that has not been exposed to our PD yet.  We have also been tasked with coming up with a series of professional development lessons that will be used throughout the course of the year and possibly next year try and help our staff with student engagement, building traditions, improving instruction technique, etc. I will be meeting with my team to go over our professional learning classes at the end of this week. we will be putting together our next in service.  As mentioned in a previous contribution to learning, I’m actually doing what has been required in the course.  

In terms of my learning community at Lamar this session, the group that I worked with was paired down to Luis, Jarrett and Bianca.  Our group is normally pretty large, but within the group we broke off into smaller groups. I guess the purpose of this was that certain groups just fit naturally together.  

Philosophical underpinnings of everybody gets an “A”?

Let me start off by saying that this program is your domain, and you have the right to do what you want in your domain.

The “everybody gets an A” discussion has been something that I have wrestled with since it was first explained. While this is not a part of the contribution, I just had to put some thoughts down regarding this policy. What follows is my reasoning as to why I should not have been guaranteed an “A”. At the very least it should make for some interesting reading.

You can also follow this link for some interesting reading regarding billionaires, millionaires and them preventing their children from being entitled. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s thoughts about his kids not having an incentive to work, is in direct opposition to the thought process presented in the video we watched and the argument that was defended in class by my classmates.

You said all students will receive an “A”.   In Christianity there is an idea called Justification. I am going to try and ut this idea in regular terms, and then connect it to our class.  When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose on the third day, there’s nothing that we can do to earn salvation except.  We just have to accept his sacrifice on the cross.   In the eyes of a Christian, salvation is by faith alone in the act of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. I have to have faith in the act that justified me and made me whole before God.  If you’re familiar with Christianity we are not currently talking about how you should live your life.  We are strictly talking about being saved from your sins. Jesus justified those who have faith in him (Ephesians 2:8-9).   In plain terms, Jesus death, burial and resurrection justifies me if I accept it by faith.  It is his grace and mercy that allows me to have my sins forgiven and be saved from his discipline (Aren’t you a loving father?  Didn’t you discipline your boys?) 

How does this get superimposed into the classroom? When you told us were all getting an “A”, you justified us.   If I fall short, or if I have not done what I should have done, your grace and mercy (because you’re the justifier) has to cover the mistakes that I’ve made on any assignments.  

So how could I argue with you on the first day knowing that I believe in justification for my salvation? Am I a hypocrite? Here are the differences.  One, unlike my example for Christianity, my heart hasn’t been changed for this class.  Two, in this school work setting; this classroom setting; I have to show some level of work. Because I have to show some level of work, if you tell me that I’m getting an “A” already, human nature  is going to lead me to do the smallest amount of work possible, that will still be acceptable.  In the example above, we are talking about accepting the justification, not the living of the Christian life.  In Christianity, even though we are justified for salvation, we will live our lives according to God’s will and precepts because we love him.  If we don’t live according to his will then we are frauds.  In class, I have nothing to love per se, and all fear of failing is gone, so why would I work harder?

What about in the regular classroom?  What if I promised all kids an “A”.  Remember, you as well as the guy in the video that we watched deal with students who are motivated.  But what if you dealt with students who aren’t motivated?  What if these are kids that are in 11th grade and have only passed two classes so far in their three years of high school.  Would they up their work ethic to “A” level?  I don’t believe so.  Why?  First, the don’t know what “A” level work requires.  In their three years theyve only passed two classes, they don’t understand the nature of passing classes, much less getting an “A”.  Second, when you give someone something they don’t deserve, WITHOUT THEM CHANGING THEIR HEART, they will feel entitled to it.  After all why did you give it to me if I didn’t deserve it anyway.  There has to be a heart change in order for students to see what a blessing they have  just been given, and as a result I will work extra hard for it, even though it is already in hand.   

Real life example? This track season we had an interesting situation.  One of our runners made it to our version of the playoffs it’s called CIF.  When she found out she made it she didn’t come to practice during the week leading to CIF.  On Saturday (the day of CIF), she called and asked if we would hold the bus.  We waited for about 15 minutes extra, and she never showed up. We get to CIF, and when we were getting our patches, she called one of the coaches and ask them to buy her patch. How does this story fit with entitlement?  This young lady did not want to do the work and even though she got to CIF it wasn’t even important enough for her to come to practice, or wake up and get on the bus with us. However, she wanted the benefits of the patch.  She felt justified in doing what she wanted because she qualified for CIF.  Her justification lead to her having feelings of entitlement (getting the patch without working for it). 

For the duration of the program I have questioned what type of students my colleagues are dealing with.   The reason why is because there’s no way that in a full classroom of teachers, only two people (myself and Danielle)  argued against giving kids “A’s” before they even did any work.  We always hear about raising the standard, rigor, preventing entitlement, etc. but why would any of that be important if we were just going to give students an “A”?