Should student goals be on display?

Whenever you see bump it up walls or learning walls in classrooms, you probably ask yourself – should student goals be on display?

There are whispers that some educational bodies are discouraging the displaying individual student goals in the classroom, as part of a broader push for student data privacy. Our own philosophies may play a part in how we feel about this, but the reality is that there are ethical and legal reasons why displaying student goals in your classroom may not be acceptable going forward.

What does this mean for you in the classroom?

Keep student goals out of plain sight

Firstly, ensure that student learning goals are not in plain sight. This means a rejig of traditional student goal mats if you are using them. You can do this by adding a flap that can cover the goals while keeping them in close proximity to the learner.

You could also keep goals and goal mats:

  • In a portfolio folder accessed by you and the learner
  • In a student’s personal learning device or in their diary

student goal mat ‘Flipping frogs’ goal mat provides privacy to students.

Should student goals be on display? Maybe. Anonymity is key

Secondly, de-identify any student work on display in your classroom, and ensure your Learning Walls and Bump It Up Walls are anonymous. This doesn’t stop the comparison game – hopefully you are having constructive conversations about student work, identifying what students have done well, and how they can improve or ‘bump up’.

You could also:

  • Include a space, such as a blank square in the top corner, on student work for them to draw an identifying picture or icon
  • Assign students an identifying number at the beginning of the year that they write on their work instead of their name.
  • Ensure that student work samples used as practice feedback/editing are de-identified

Over many years we have all argued that students know each other’s abilities – they just know. However, today more than ever, teachers have a responsibility to protect student privacy, from those not involved in their learning, including their peers.

So how do we celebrate learning goals when they are achieved?

We can still celebrate student goals through goal achievement, either as individuals or as a class. Students can still have their success recognized, even in front of the class. I like to give small vouchers for my prize box or extra computer time when students achieve one of their learning goals.

I also love showing my students my de-identified mark book that shows how they have grown as a class across the term or semester – I use my trusty orange and green colors to show this, and it is always so amazing to see how the class has achieved success criteria AND their reaction to seeing my mark book.

Protecting your students, protecting yourself

We know that displaying student marks for everyone to see is the wrong thing to do, but increasingly school districts are seeing increased ethical and legal issues when student data of any kind, including learning goals, are displayed publicly. From student confidence in the classroom to gossipy parents, there are a range of dangers inherent in displaying this information for schools and us as teachers. I’d love to hear your thoughts or even your personal experience with student privacy in your classroom, and let me know – how are you displaying your student learning goals?

My freebie, Student Goals Venn Diagram, comes with a box for students to draw an identifying picture, instead of writing their name. My freebie, Student Goals Venn Diagram, comes with a box for students to draw an identifying picture, instead of writing their name.