Teachers wear many "hats" in the classroom. As we become more and more comfortable with curriculum, instruction and assesssment, those "hats" start to change and look different. We start to develop what might be called, "our hidden curriculum". The hidden curriculum may be thought of as something that is indirectly cultivated by teachers or a school that is not written down or articulated in any book or manual. Our hidden curriculum is often embedding in our teaching philosophy. Over the years I have spent a lot of energy ensuring students learn to "never give up", as evidenced in this video clip.
Schools often make it difficult to help students learn to never give up. One popular and arguably damaging practice related to instilling a "never give up" attitude is the zero policy. That is to say, teachers will establish due dates, time lines and late policies for assignments and then penalize students when they don't meet these deadlines, which may ultimately lead to giving a score of zero on the assignment. This assessment practice has grave consequences. Instead of teaching the student the lesson of responsibility, it often teaches them that giving up is okay. Douglas Reeves wrote an excellent article about assigning a zero to student work; you can view it here. What strategies could we adopted to build fortitude in students?
1. Never Give a Zero- if students fail to hand in assessments in a timely manner, have them come in at lunch until they finish what you have given them. If the purpose of the assessment is to gather information about the student to see where they are at and where they need to go, then giving it a zero is counter productive to moving students forward in their learning.
2. Give assignments that enable students to try more than once- Students need to be able to practice what we teach, learn from their mistakes without fear and punishment, reflect and grow. The best way to do this is allow them multiple attempts. E-assessments can afford the opportunity for many attempts at certain types of assignments so that students can try again without overwhelming the teacher with a huge workload.
In the end, teachers should be doing all they can to build success in student's. As we all know, success builds confidence. "May the Force be With You"!