Greater Atlanta Christian School Blog

Back to School - What Does Good Student Work Look Like?

Posted by Dr. Misty Overman

I love coming back to school! As parents, we eagerly walk up and down the halls, search classroom walls, and pridefully point out our student's work. If their masterpieces are display worthy, it is labeled as "good." But what does good student work look like – really? Typically in lower grades, many of us believe good work should be neat with few to no mistakes. In upper grades it gets a little tricky since work is rarely displayed. 
 
What does good work really look like?
  • It has mistakes. "Failure is just a step," says Joel Manby, President & CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment.  If students are told they can't ever make mistakes on their own work, where will they end up making thGoodWork resized 600em?  When will they learn to deal with them? Yes, we need perfection. I want the person building the bridges I drive on to build it perfectly. But a math paper doesn't have to be perfect. Your child's teacher NEEDS to know the mistakes your child makes. That is the truest form of communication in learning.
  • It is their work. Resist the urge, parents! Put down the pencil, scissors, or computer. If you over help your student, you are telling them by your actions they aren't smart enough to do the work. Realize that your kids have to make mistakes in order to learn.
  • It asks students to do more than regurgitate, skim the text, or Google the answer. While there is a place for fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice, those types of questions reach only the lowest levels of learning. Period. They are appropriate first steps, but if students are not asked to go beyond those tasks, they are not learning anything that will stick with them.
So, what does "not good" work look like?
 
Trial and error is essential to cognitive growth. If our students were computers, we would expect them to spit out exactly what we put into their minds. But if all they do is guess...that is all they will do.
  • It is not just a pretty picture.
  • It is not just about right answers. As stated above, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching are okay for early learning tasks. But real work comes when students take what they have learned, and use it, create with it, apply it to other situations, and eventually pass it on to someone else.
At the end of the day, good work isn't always pretty, it isn't always right, and it isn't always easy. Good work leads students to more questions than answers. Great work makes them think.

photo credit: photopin.com

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Topics: private christian schools in GA, homework, student work, parent involvement, good work

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