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Experience + Reflection = New Learning.

Dear Middle School Families,

At Gordon's middle school, we are not all math teachers, but we all know a formula for learning that works:

Experience + Reflection = New Learning.

Our children have had a variety of experiences over the past two months, and tomorrow we pause to reflect as a team in an effort to help students learn and grow.

I spent many years as a writing teacher, and I always told my students that there is nothing they could do to avoid getting feedback from me when they turned in a draft of an essay. This feedback would always include areas of growth, because writing is a process of continuous improvement. All learning works this way, and feedback is one of the most effective tools in every teacher's tool belt. While it isn't always easy or fun to receive feedback (even positive feedback can be embarrassing), it is an essential ingredient to help students reach their potential.

Yesterday, at our middle school meeting, students were part of a conversation about conferences and feedback. We talked about how sixth, seventh, and eighth graders will receive grades and hear comments on Friday, and the comments are significantly more valuable than the grades. Here's another math fact I shared with the students to illustrate this point:

Comments > Grades.

This is supported by research. Comments are a more specific form of feedback that accelerate learning faster than grades. This is because students build new skills by understanding their strengths and, more importantly, their areas for growth.

Conferences provide an opportunity for families, teachers, and students to communicate and collaborate. They provide an opportunity for students to understand themselves and for the team of adults to help each child plan to build on strength and focus on areas of growth. This is all in the spirit of continuous improvement.

Happy Conference Day! It is a day without school, but one dedicated to learning.