The Wednesday Notice, 9/27/17



In our most recent Next Week at Crossroads communication to parents, Kim wrote that the “rigor and vigor doesn’t end on Friday.” She was referring to all that was going on last Saturday at Crossroads, things like student ambassador training, FIRST Robotics, open gym for a few basketball players, professional development for a few teachers, and our Parents of Children of Color meeting.

I wonder if our larger community knows what we mean when we talk about rigor and vigor at Crossroads. In short:

  • “Rigor” refers to learning that is appropriately challenging and purposeful; rigor increases engagement because the learning is energizing and meaningful.

  • “Vigor” refers to learning that is appropriately interesting and joyful; vigor increases engagement because the learning piques student curiosity.

As a learning community, I expect that our students experience learning that is both rigorous and vigorous.

Of course, rigor and vigor do not always happen at the same time and to the same degree. Sometimes there’s excitement and curiosity that precedes the challenge; sometimes there’s challenge that ignites the curiosity; and sometimes, the two align and the challenge is immediately exciting.

In the last two weeks, I’ve enjoyed observing students and teachers as I move throughout the building. This week, I saw rigorous and vigorous learning experiences when:

  • Art students were in the lobby drawing a still life. Drawing a still life is challenging in the way solving a puzzle can be. Student interest is piqued as they begin to see how their choices on paper reflect the subject in life. In this way, curiosity is sustained.

  • Pre-Calculus students were working together on graphs of rational functions. Students were having fun even in the midst of this challenging work, smiling and joking about who would understand it first (and last). Joyful work sustains energy for the challenge. In the end, they broke into two groups and everyone finished the assignment.

  • Middle school science students were being evaluated on their ability to find volume with a graduated cylinder and write a detailed and accurate procedure. Students were focused, writing and erasing. Their teacher’s feedback as they worked helped give purpose to the challenge.

  • Juniors and seniors in an elective were debating how a literary conflict could possibly be resolved. They came up with many viable options, demonstrating both their recall and understanding of the text and their excitement to share and defend their ideas. The rise in classroom volume was joyful as they tried to reason the characters out of what seemed like an impossible situation.

This week, consider asking your child, “What is the best question you asked at school today?” This will give you a sense of the challenge and the curiosity that energized their learning and thinking.

With great expectations,