The term ‘rigor’ is used in education to define the level of the challenge that assignments/tasks present to the students. Administrators pay close attention to rigor because it is can be an indicator of growth. Most importantly, administrators want to see evidence of this growth in test scores. It’s easy to increase the rigor, but there has to be some consideration about what happens after the increase. How will the students respond? As the leader in the classroom, the teacher has to be able to anticipate this. Rigor won’t mean anything if students don’t have the endurance to run the race and give good effort.
Unfortunately, students enter your classroom with varying levels of skills and abilities. Some students are at grade level and some are not. Rigor will inspire some. It can also break the confidence of students who aren’t yet there. However, administration wants to see a certain level of growth by the end of the year as indicated by data and standardize tests. This is the primary challenge of every teacher. How do you solve this issue? My suggestion is to simply emphasize growth. If a student goes from 3 to 6, that calls for a celebration. A movement from 6 to 8 call for a celebration. Any forward movement is positive! When students experience this, they want to experience it again. These moments are plentiful and you don’t have a to wait for a test to celebrate them. You can celebrate them:
- When they answer a question in class
- When they complete an assignment to the best of their ability
- When they genuinely reflect on their learning and learn from their mistakes
- When they help a friend with their assignment
- When they go above and beyond
These moments build up their endurance for the next challenge ahead. If the message throughout the year is growth and there is less emphasis on hitting a number, amazing things can happen because students will be constantly build their endurance to do more.
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