What does “good” look like?

This is another powerful “mantra” that has emerged in my classroom this week.

Students need to know what they are aiming for, what mastery means and what quality is possible and achievable. In the absence of an endless supply of relevant exemplars (or even in the absence of a brain that can remember the sources of such exemplars… let’s be honest), and without wanting to model absolutely everything (as if we really are the best at everything!)… having this conversation with students on a regular basis is very powerful.It may take many different forms:

  • What good looks like may evolve and emerge during a lesson (like the examples below)
  • Students may have some examples already of what good looks like
  • You may be able to work out together what good looks like
  • You may have an example from a previous year (be wary of this… make sure it doesn’t look dated and irrelevant to these kids you’re working with now)
  • A student from another class may have created something that shows what good looks like
  • It may be appropriate for the teacher to model what good looks like
  • Sometimes, students may be better qualified to model what good looks like
  • Sometimes, what good looks like can be accessed in the media or from professional quality examples

Today, my students were writing letters to their parents about ways in which they may be disorganized and how they can try to be more organized and earn more trust. These two pictures show examples of what a good plan and a good letter look like, they were created during the lesson and students were able to pause and compare their own efforts to them.

Nobody tried to replicate them exactly, of course, but they did represent a certain quality that everybody tried their best to work towards. The fact that they were done at the time and by their peers made them all the more effective as examples of what good looks like now!

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