How hard must it be for a child starting out on some new learning if they don’t know what it is they need to achieve.
What will success look like?
Hasn’t everyone at some time sat in a meeting or lecture listening intently to the speaker only to wonder what they were really talking about or where the talk was going? I know I have.
One loses focus, feels confused and frustrated.
How different it is when the speaker outlines what will be discussed and indicates the steps they will take to ensure you have understood their talk by the end.
Let’s talk about setting children up for success by showing them what success looks like.
Knowing what success looks like in children’s learning is vitally important at school.
But parents can employ similar principles at home – at seven years of age who really knows what a properly stacked dishwasher looks like without being shown?
Many schools use goal setting and/or success criteria. But there is a difference between them.
Setting goals certainly helps to motivate and focus the learning on an outcome. These outcomes are often behavioural (paying attention, contributing appropriately in class, homework in on time etc) and children are encouraged to be part of identifying and setting their goals. This happens in most homes too.
Success criteria have a focus on learning, not behaviour. At school success criteria can also be expressed as assessment criteria – ensuring students know what will be assessed and therefore, what aspect of their learning they have had success or achievement in.
They should be ideally created with input from the students thus giving the students a sense of ownership. They may be supported by work samples which provide explicitly what and how the work/task is to be assessed, or as rubrics. In other words, teachers make it clear to the students what they will be learning and what it looks like when they have achieved the learning.
Students usually love rubrics. These can be generated for assessing much of their learning. They can also be great at home!
A rubric is often in the form of a matrix (see left) that provides scaled levels of achievement or scoring which help guide teacher and student to make judgements about the level of learning displayed.
The criteria or descriptors for the assessment are listed (in this example, Student begins sentence with a capital letter), and the performance standards in numbers are tabled beside them. Students are encouraged to self-assess and often to assess their fellow student.
With most children being comfortable using rubrics at school, parents might like to develop one with their child at home for the weekly chores!
For example, the assessment standards could be: Making the bed; tidying the bookshelf/toy box; picking up all clothes; tidying the wardrobe. Don’t forget to talk about what developing, almost there, just right and excellent (or whatever you choose as standards) look like. Making sure you and your child are on agreed on what just right looks like might be the hardest task!!
There are other ways to set out your matrix for a tidy bedroom but start simple and build from there.
How exciting when each line is ticked at 4! Especially exciting when your child and you both assess the same number. It is time to celebrate!
Praise for a job well done is the best, especially when attached to the amount of effort the child has put into the task. Always better to praise the effort than tell the child they are clever. (One day they won’t complete the task; so does that mean they are no longer clever? Of course not!).
Letting students know what success in particular tasks looks like has been shown to have a positive effect and improve their learning outcomes.
And isn’t that what we want for our children – more success!