Verity thinks it is unacceptable that students at her school weren’t achieving higher grades, and they were happy to accept a ‘C’. She believes in a school where all students and staff fail forward with a specific target in mind, and where students drive themselves to achieve self-determined targets. However, at her school at the start of the year, students expressed apathy towards their academic achievement, teachers were working harder than students, parents were ‘rescuing’ their children, and the number of ‘C’ grades being awarded indicated students were happy to accept mediocrity. She decided to focus in on this apathy and contentedness with mediocrity.
Verity focussed on improving students’ authentic engagement with their drive for learning and achievement.
She pitched the concept to senior staff, addressing some of the elephants in the room, and brainstormed steps to move forward together. Together, the senior staff started to change their language with students, and changed the way they were marking. Verity gave feedback on work and behaviour that was two grades higher than the drafted work. If their work met a ‘C’ grade, teachers gave students feedback about how to get their work to an ‘A’ level.
Staff were coached to engage in goal setting with students, and they revisited these goals with students each week, each term, after each assessment, and at the end of each semester. Verity shared her own ‘how to’s’ with staff in one-on-one meetings and in staff meetings. In senior staff meetings they played games that focussed on building connections, inspiring teachers to run similar activities with their students.
Staff at her school had conversations about not giving ‘E’ grades, and ‘Bs get degrees, don’t accept a C!’ became the catchcry amongst staff. A 0.6 teacher was employed to get alongside students to help them set goals.
To date, grades across the school haven’t changed noticeably. Verity know they still need to break the culture at their school.
We’ve talked about it long enough. Now we need to set some micro goals and get moving!
Staff have voiced their appreciation for the initiative and have felt supported in the process, however some still need to change their behaviour in order for the team to see a change in student aspiration and achievement.
One boy in Year 11 has been a constant non-attender up until this year. However, now he’s now working in McDonalds and is completing a Certificate 3 in Engineering. After the 3rd house visit he asked if he could attend an after school program to complete compulsory subjects. He said “the problem with this school is it makes me care too much!”.
Like the idea?
Verity would love your support for Bs Get Degrees, or for you to start a similar program in your school, and she’d love to hear about any ideas you have or lend a hand where she can. Shoot an email to email@example.com if you want to get in touch with Verity and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer her on in the comments below as well.
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