By losing the fear of failure we build a learning community where students can comfortably be themselves  

This week we had the pleasure of connecting with Charles Denson, a third-grade teacher at Parkside campus.

Charles was nominated for the academic and behavioral reflection process that he does with his students.

In the words of his peers Charles is:

“He does great reflection with his students and puts in time after class to make sure his students’ work is read and has feedback. Second, he does great work with his behavior management. He uses forms for the kids to reflect on behavior and he is consistent with keeping them on the right track. He’s a great teacher and should be recognized!”

So let’s jump right in and learn more about Charles.

1. What did you want your students to know or understand?

From a behavioral or class agreements perspective, I want my kids to know and understand the importance and benefits of being thoughtful.

Our students work hard at embracing the idea that we are either winning or learning and that mistakes help us learn.

By losing the fear of failure we build a learning community where students can comfortably be themselves while learning in an enjoyable environment.

To start the year I teach a series of games that encourage risk-taking and mistake making.  We revisit these games throughout the year as an icebreaker before our weekly class meetings.

2. What skills did you want your students to gain?

I wanted my students to build their independent learning skills by taking academic risks and self-monitoring their behavior & academic progress.

When class expectations are breached we go through a reflection process that includes four questions:

A) what are our expectations,

B) why do we have those expectations,

C) what will you do differently next time and

D) is there anything you would like me to know.

This process empowers the kids to take responsibility for both their actions and finding ways to keep growing as a member of our team.

3. How did you teach this lesson in the past?

In the past, I struggled with keeping up with student learning data.  I would struggle to remember who turned in what, how well they did, which objectives they are meeting and which objectives they need practice with.

This confusion made it more difficult for me to follow up with my students’ self-selected goals and progress.

4. How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

In the past, I did not have a clearly defined system in place.

Through talking with collogues and combining the best ideas from numerous places, I’ve come up with an easy system to chart student progress.

I simply print a chart with my students’ names and a blank space for our learning objectives.  I mark their level of proficiency using three levels of student-friendly language:

wow, getting there, and not yet

This allows me to monitor progress, give quick feedback to students, co-teachers, and parents.

This learning objective chart also makes it easy to make partners or learning groups and to consistently follow up with student progress.

This organization helps keep the kids accountable and celebrate their victories.


Reach out to Charles at for his

Learning objective page and Student Reflection Templates.


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