Shannon Schinkel: Drama, Equity, and Assessment

Who is Shannon Schinkel?

SHANNON SCHINKEL is an inclusive BC high school drama teacher, progressive assessment maker, part time actor, blogger, and reader. She is also the creator and administrator of two Facebook groups: Beyond Report Cards and Humanities Zone. You can follow Shannon on Twitter @DramaQueenBRC and on her blog at https://mygrowthmindset.home.blog.

Questions, Topics, and YouTube Timestamps

  • 1:20 – Who is Shannon Schinkel? Tell us a little bit more about your current CONTEXT and work in education.
  • 3:04 – Before we go any further, how are you doing these days? What has your headspace been like, and what does PANDEMIC LEARNING look like in your context?
  • 4:48 – It’s STORY TIME. Please share with us about a low moment or an experience of adversity that you’ve faced in your teaching or education career, and describe how you overcame it.
  • 11:25 – How can educators shift student thinking and language away FROM grades to be earned TOWARD learning and proficiency to be developed?
  • 17:27 – Is a PASS/FAIL model of assessment and reporting possible or even desirable in K-12 education?
  • 19:32 – Let’s talk about BEYOND REPORT CARDS, your legendary Facebook group that now boasts almost 1,400 passionate educators and continues to grow. What fuels your passion for the area of assessment in education today?
  • 23:58 – Josh Ogilvie (@JoshOgilvie4) on Twitter, a teacher in Burnaby, BC, asked this question: “How can we help teachers develop and use sound and ALIGNED assessment and grading practices?”
  • 33:08 – And here’s a question from our mutual friend and rock star in BC education, Rose Pillay (@RPillay1) on Twitter. She asks “How can teachers OUTSIDE of your district benefit from your work, words, wit & wisdom? Beyond the blog, beyond Twitter.”
  • 36:35 – We are living and working in an incredible time for the planet and for education. Do you feel like we are on the brink of an assessment REVOLUTION in North America?
  • 41:55 – As you look across your PLN and your own practice in the remote learning environment, what is setting you ON FIRE about education today?
  • 44:42 – How are you looking to GROW professionally and improve your practice right now? Can you share about a specific professional goal or project that you’re currently working on?
  • 51:07 – Outside of education, what’s another area of LEARNING for you? Tell us why this area interests you and why you enjoy it.
  • 53:55 – Share about an app, personal habit, or PRODUCTIVITY hack that contributes to your success and helps you do everything that you do.

Voices and Resources That Spark Shannon’s Thinking

Follow Shannon

Connect with Teachers on Fire

Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire podcast on your mobile device

Song Track Credits

  • Sunrise Drive by South London Hifi*
  • Anthem by The Grand Affair*
  • Roots of Legend by Density & Time
  • Jane Fonda by The Grand Affair*
  • *tracks courtesy of the YouTube Audio Library

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Professional Paradox: The Agony and Ecstasy of Reporting Period

Report cards form a sacred ritual that speaks to our core mission.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

We’re approaching another reporting period in my middle school. Our year runs in three terms, and we’re currently in the process of wrapping up term two before spring break.

The deadline for the submission of report card comments looms large.

The Agony

For as long as I’ve been a teacher, reporting periods have been something of a painful rite of passage.

Even on normal weeks throughout the school year, I feel the weight of lesson and unit planning, assessment, emails, parent communication, team meetings, staff meetings, supervision, and all the other duties that come with the job.

If you’re in the classroom full-time, I’m sure you can relate.

Reporting periods just pile on top of those regular demands. There are more summative assessments to complete, marks to record, work habits to consider, progress comments to write.

It all takes time, and because we are proud of our professional work and committed to the mission of learning and growth, we want to do it well. It can lead to some long days and late nights, leaving us with less emotional margin for the people we serve.

As deadlines loom, thoughts of 9 to 5 days in other career fields suddenly become interesting, and our escapist fantasies take us to lazy beach vacations.

It can be an exhausting time.

The Ecstasy

Even in the midst of this pain, there is joy to be found. Year after year, I’m somehow surprised when the arduous process of reporting actually increases my care and empathy for students.

I evaluate each strand of their work habits, and I see their faces. I replay our interactions: their expressions, laughter, passions, curiosities, and the highs and lows of their character.

I write about their progress, and I’m called to reflect deeply. To consider their academic strengths and weaknesses. To remember their moments of despair and frustration. To relish their times of triumph and success. To point to areas of continuing growth and progress.

I’m reminded that some of my students fight silent battles: health problems, stressful moves, parents in the middle of divorce. Others project a brave exterior that masks deep anxiety: about academics, about their future, or about fitting in at school.

As I intensify my focus on each learner in my care, my commitment increases.

photo of three men jumping on ground near bare trees during daytime
Photo Credit: Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

A Sacred Ritual and Privilege

Reporting is a sacred ritual — one integral to our mission. It comes back to our great purpose, our rai·son d’ê·tre.

Our why.

Because this project of K-12 education is about something far, far bigger than the transmission of information. It’s about far more than 13 years of filling brains.

It’s about equipping students with skills.

It’s about habits of thinking and attitudes of heart.

It’s about the formation of mind, spirit, and character.

It’s about developing young adults who are filled with passion and compassion, who lead with service, who are prepared to contribute to the lives of others and make this world a better place.

And so it is that the rite of reporting is an honor, a privilege. Because as educators, as guides, as lead learners, we’re given a special place in this journey.

Our place is to speak into this process of growth, this journey of development, knowing that our words carry great weight.

Our comments become a formalized, enshrined review of the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, the growth and the challenges ahead.

Our words can simultaneously affirm, correct, encourage, and create hope.

And that’s an awesome responsibility. It’s what we’re all about.