Success can be measured not just in terms of academics but also in personal growth. I imagine my potential group of students will come from very challenging circumstances and backgrounds providing unique personal and academic needs. Academically, state assessments can be analyzed at the beginning of the year for individual and whole group weaknesses to guide and inform my planning, teaching and assessing. Also, a more informal baseline assessment that I administer in the beginning of the year can be a good tool to use to conference with a student and have them identify goals they might have for themselves academically. The more students take ownership of their own learning and goals, the more invested they will be in their education. Similar benchmarks might be given throughout the year, each one building on skills taught previously and still identifying individual and group needs. Not every student should be expected to meet the same goal but rather to progress from where they are. Success can also be measured on a personal scale in regards to connections that students have made with their peers or me throughout the year. Students coming from lower-income areas may have trouble making connections and may desperately need to make connections due to a difficult home life. The more connected and accepted they feel in school with their peers and at least one adult, the more invested they will be in their academics. I will pay close attention to their personalities, likes and dislikes and use this information to guide and inform my personal and academic conversations and assignments with them individually and as a whole group/family. Providing choice, whenever possible, will also be important in helping them to express themselves and feel connected to school, and has shown to help struggling and hesitant readers and writers. I can keep anecdotal records of times when students open up to me, make more eye contact, ask for extra help, enjoy and put effort into an assignment I gave them some choice on and show personal growth over the course of the year, being sure to give them praise and acknowledge their efforts as well as their achievements. Listening and noticing incremental improvements for my students both academically and personally will be solid indicators for me of their success.
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