Rigor in the Classroom

Have been listening my to my principal now for about a year talking about rigor in our staff meetings. When I meet with him individually, he doesn’t bring it up. I did finally though. His definition of rigor is moving forward–when students are gone or when the teacher is gone, instruction continues.
Funny. My first absence of the year I left video lectures which the sub could not find; the students knew but the student she asked for help is the youngest in the class and shy. The student couldn’t help–so students who did know, didn’t bother to help. Instead they didn’t move ahead. When I lectured my students about their responsibilities, quizzed them on how to find resources for the class, I was chastised by. . .yup! The principal.
So I let it lay for a while until I felt that he was lukewarm again about this topic. Again he said moving forward. I thought and thought. . .no he means lots of homework; every night homework, repetitive and memorization homework;homework for the sake of homework instead of for learning homework. Busy work homework.
Rigor to me is not lots of homework. Rigor is expecting students to think! To use their knowledge to problem solve, question and analyze. My students have not had to do that for two years. Instead they had nightly homework with questions that could have easily gone to develop higher level thinking skills, critical thinking but students just looked up answers on the Internet, copied from their peers or asked for assistance in understanding the question/ The understanding the question is good–but most teachers including myself often give the answer away without teaching the students to think. They learn to play a game that is easy to be sucked in to; when I realized what was happening I backed off, answered questions with more questions, carefully weeded out real questions from “I just want the right answer” do not trouble me with knowledge, just give me answers.
Sad indeed.
Sadder to realize I am not sure I wish to return next fall to play this game with a principal. Sadder even more to think students are smart enough to figure out this game and teachers are not.


About mentaldiva

Only dead fish go with the flow--I am not swimming upstream all the time, but I certainly do not merely go with the flow either. Professional female with expectations of equity living in a redneck community needing to express herself!
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2 Responses to Rigor in the Classroom

  1. Well put! How often I am faced with the disappointed faces of my students when I inform them the answers are actually not found in their textbooks, but rather in their brains. We are just about the end of the school year and I finally have this bunch knowledgable in the fact that for many of my questions there are simply no ‘right’ answers.

  2. mentaldiva says:

    What I am finding even more so in my upper level classes are students looking up answers on the Internet instead of reading the assigned text-book or other. I particularly like when a question could be interpreted in a non-science or math way due to the words or concept possibly having more than one meaning; then I know students are not thinking. Cannot think of an example right now since I do not give vocabulary as an assignment but during class will ask the meaning of a word or phrase and know students looked up online instead of applying the word to content on hand and in the classroom when they give me a non-context answer.
    Will have to think more for a good example!

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