Texas Students Share Thoughts on a Journey to Independent Learning

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As each middle school child shared his or her opinion about a classroom they’d never experienced before, my face brightened with a broad smile. One student brandished a sign saying, “I read 15 books this year. Last year I read 2.” Another sign read, “I’ve been able to use feedback to make my writing better.”

Students huddled around a table, working on yearlong projects, while others lounged in a hallway, backs against lockers, reading paperback novels or eBooks on a mobile device. Some had intimate chats with their teacher, explaining what they had accomplished and what remained to be done.

On a 100-degree day in a suburban school tucked not far from Dallas-Fort Worth, last August, a group of educators made a commitment to revolutionize teaching and learning for their Texas students.

After reading Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom (ASCD, 2013), they decided to discard everything they’d ever done that might be called traditional teaching. They created a Results Only Learning Environment, or ROLE, and invited students and parents to take a journey toward independent learning.

In the video above, these Texas students share their feelings about this remarkable journey. It’s one of the most powerful 9-minute productions I’ve ever seen.

Perhaps this is because of my close relationship with the remarkable teachers who transformed their classrooms. Or, maybe, it’s simply because the students are the stars.

Sadly, in education, we often forget our most important stakeholders. The teachers at Coppell East have put students at the center and created a magical place, filled with enthusiastic, independent learners.

Isn’t this what all schools should look like?

For an up-close look at this inspirational story, check out my new book, Assessment 3.0: Throw Out Your Grade Book and Inspire Learning (Corwin, 2015).

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series -- books and other series that provide right-now solutions for teachers and learners. Mark is the author or publisher of dozens of books, including Bestseller Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Join more than 150,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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