The following article was compiled by WCS Professional Development Director Laurette Carle. This is the third installment of a three part series that looks at how rigor is being used in Williamson County Schools. In part I, we defined rigor; Part II exposed seven myths about rigor; and part III contains tips for parents and guardians.
(from Rigor in Your Classroom: A Toolkit for Teachers by Barbara R. Blackburn, Taylor & Francis, 2014)
- Rigor can be simple to implement in school or at home.
- Rigor is being challenged on grade level, but support is provided (such as reading guides or graphic organizers) to help students navigate through difficult or unfamiliar text.
- Rigor is helping your son or daughter think for himself or herself. You can help by teaching your child to think beyond the text by asking questions starting with “What if…?”
- Rigor is helping your son or daughter make connections among the disciplines. Ask, “How does this topic relate to what you are studying in your other classes?” or “How might this relate to a career of interest?”
- Rigor is allowing your son or daughter to explore and discover. It is okay if he takes a while to get the answer and you can see it clearly. Home is an appropriate place for your son or daughter to take this time and process while solving problems.
- Rigor is providing guidance, not answers. When your son or daughter asks for help, provide guidance, not answers. Too much help teaches that someone will do the work for him or her.
- Rigor is providing a supportive environment at home for your son or daughter to work. He or she needs to know it is okay if his or her answers are not perfect and that he/she can ask for help as long as he/she has exhausted other measures such as checking class notes, looking to the text or other reading material or doing some light research online.
- Rigor is using and teaching your son or daughter to use positive language when confronted with a challenge. “I can’t” are not words anyone should use. Instead say things such as, “I am having trouble getting this done. I am going to try to do it by myself, but I may need some help” or “I have not been able to figure this out yet, but I am going to keep trying. I know it takes effort to succeed.”
- Rigor is having high expectations for your son or daughter and cheering them on when they are frustrated or challenged. Remind them that your role is not to remove obstacles for them, but to help them learn to navigate around or through those obstacles, helping them build their own resilience, confidence and independence.