This book examines learning and evaluation and the need to bring the two together in more relevant ways. Rief and Barbieri invite us to consider how we might best develop our students' strengths, presenting a collection of truly useful, and often novel, approaches. The voices recorded in All That Matters are those of risk takers: teachers who seek greater insight into, and respect for, children; enthusiasts who incorporate the unexpected into their teaching of art, music, gardening, foreign languages, and more. Above all, they are the voices of lifelong learners who share their passion with students and colleagues, parents and family. These teachers are willing to chance failure because they understand that learning is as essential to our survival as breathing; learning is what keeps us alive. From them, we learn ways to:
  • Examine the potential of portfolios to reflect different kinds of intelligence
  • Balance individual needs with those of the entire class
  • Discover ways to enhance professional development within school walls
  • Involve parents in meaningful, ongoing evaluation
  • Recognize and honor students' and teachers' passions in the classroom and beyond
Woven in among their classroom stories are "Interludes," where teacher-writers reflect on what matters most in their lives. What makes a teacher write a poem honoring a town's courage in the face of bigotry? What makes another teacher reminisce about her mother's garden or a community's loyalty or a father's faith? Rief and Barbieri believe that teachers like these, who know what they really cherish, can help us all better define what we value for our students. More important, they help us achieve it.