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By Dave Dompke, Evelin Cortez, and Mark Heintz

This is part of a blog series intended to document and define learning at Elk Grove High School throughout the 2018-2019 school year in order to increase student learning, give professionals autonomy, increase trust in our learning community, and foster a sense of personal-intellectual collegiality within the building across departments. You can read all of the previous posts here.  I am going into each teacher’s class four times and then they are reflecting alongside their students on the learning that took place and what they hope for.

Dave is part of a group that came together and defined learning.  Part of that group’s goal is not only to have a definition but to live its values.  In other words, try to create conditions to represent the values stated in the definition.  I visited Dave’s class and met with him after.  Here is our group’s definition and his reflection on how attempts to live his values.

Learning is the integration of values, or importance to the individual, and beliefs with new and relevant information, skills, and/or abilities for long-term application in life outside of the immediate task.

The process of learning is an evolving journey that includes engaging tasks and processes, emphasizes voice and shapes meaning and authenticity.

The product of all of this is an ever-evolving worldview, the development of skills and awareness to continually evaluate and reflect upon themselves and the world around them.

Now that we have a working definition of learning and some values behind it, how are you putting your beliefs in to practice? 

I continue to focus my work on the individual.  Students are not going to learn from me until they are comfortable with me.  I continue to use time during the period to engage with the students, not about schoolwork, but about what’s going on with them personally.  I feel getting this knowledge will help me with their background and build a better relationship.  Once that relationship has trust, then I feel the student will be open more to learn from me.  Sure, students will learn something regardless, but with trust, they can learn more.

What is holding you back and not letting you live your values?  

Time is the biggest obstacle.  It is tough to reach each student every single day.  I want to make sure our conversations have value and aren’t simply scripted and rushed.  I want to value their time and work together.

Evelin Cortez

Why do you like school?  

I like school because I feel comfortable and feel supported.  I also like how teachers are nice to me and help me.

What is it about Dompke’s class that you like or makes it especially good?

He makes the class fun comfortable and is supportive of all the students.  Anytime someone has a question he helps them and helps them understand.