Over the past 4 days, we have met with administration, worked with an assessment consultant, developed student "road maps" of the standards and performance assessments, and went on an inspiring visit to High School in the Community to witness a successful mastery-based learning school in action. (More about this great experience soon...)
This week has been one of energy, excitement and reinvigorated my sense of purpose as an educator.
This week has also humbled me in a way.
Although I am still in the midst of making sense of it, it is fair to say that I have learned two important lessons:
#1: A true mastery learning approach is difficult to do in isolation (or even in a small "pilot.")
#2: For a mastery-learning system to work, considerable time and energy must focus on stakeholder buy-in and logistics.
I now realize that leading up to this initiative, I underestimated #1, and fell short on #2. In a way, my excitement and zeal for this may have blinded me to some of the structural and procedural roadblocks that inevitably surface when trying to implement such a change. In hindsight, I should have known better. I will go into greater detail on these obstacles once I can further wrap my mind around all of this.
I want to end the week, however, by expressing that despite some initial setbacks and mistakes, I believe more than ever that mastery learning (and variations of it) is an approach to learning that truly benefits students. I also know that despite the challenges, I am not going to give up on this and will learn from these experiences in both the short run and looking ahead to the future.
We will continue to push ahead and implement more elements of mastery learning throughout this semester and share our experiences along the way. Next week will be a reflection on our visit to High School in the Community, an inspiring experience that now has me fundamentally rethinking the way we educate our students.