Head’s Corner

Words Matter

As a person who went through teacher training, I was taught to set classroom goals with the language of “students will know.” We also framed our conversations about what we were doing in class that day using the “Today I am teaching…” phrase. Both emphasize the role of the teacher when it comes to education.


I bring this up because over the summer our teachers started reading a book called Leaders of Their Own Learning. The emphasis of the book is to help students own, assess and grow from their learning. This starts with how we talk about the process of education. There is a difference in how one thinks about the process when we ask ourselves  “What am I teaching today?” versus “What will students learn today?” One is something I do to students, the other is something they do.

You will start to hear us talking about learning targets and using “I Can” statements. When a teacher writes goals using “students will know…”, it sends a very different message than when we use the language “I can” followed by a specific target. The “I can” gives ownership to the learner. It allows the student (with help from the teacher) to learn how to self-assess their progress and set a new learning target.

And that is the goal of a true learner, is it not? One who can look at what they are doing, assess where they are, and figure out where they need to go next. Interestingly enough, the book points out that the root meaning of the word assess is “to sit beside.” Traditionally, assessment is something educators have done to students. Leaders of Their Own Learning gives us the opportunity to do it in partnership, with the goal that they will soon guide their own learning.


Author: The Saklan School Friday Blog

The Saklan School is a private Pre-K through 8 school located in Moraga, CA. Our mission is to think creatively, act compassionately, and live courageously.

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