We are coming to the end of the semester and one thing I am doing in my 3UU class is conferencing with each student about what they have learned, created, and reflected upon in their Passion Projects. From these conferences, I come away so impressed by how interested these students are in the world, but also how aware they are of their own strengths and areas for growth.
Throughout the time they worked on this project, I spent a lot of time checking in face to face, but also leaving a multitude of comments on their Google Docs. I wanted to experiment with the idea of copious amounts of descriptive feedback while in process rather than closer to and at the end of the project. So many of the students expressed that they really appreciated hearing my feedback along the way. I had many comments about how they felt they were able to adapt what I was saying and use it in the process rather than hearing about it at end in a more traditional feedback loop. It was more of an iterative cycle and that seemed to resonate with the students. Another positive outcome was that their final projects were of much higher quality than other work they had completed earlier in the semester.
The conferences I am having now are more of a debriefing session where we discuss the process that each student underwent and the strategies they employed throughout the task. These conversations are fascinating. The students have such a handle on their strong attributes as well as truly understand their areas for growth. I often think we don’t give students enough credit when it comes to understanding their own abilities as they weren’t checking off a rubric – they were reflecting which is so much more valuable.
After these conferences, my mind is buzzing and it even more so reinforces that we need to personalizing education for each individual student. It’s not acceptable to give each student the same task with the same generic feedback at the end and then reduce it to a two-digit number. There is so much depth in humanity and by allowing students to show us their thinking, inspirations, ability to reflect, interests, skills, and selves, we are opening them up to possibilities rather than closing doors.