Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Irony at work

The other day, I was checking the page proofs of a chapter I wrote with four of our Teaching Consultants from the Center of Excellence - the chapter is to be published soon and I have to get the page proofs back to the publisher asap. Anyway, the chapter focuses on assessment for and as learning - assessment that helps students grow as independent learners.

While I was proofing the chapter, I kept getting e-mails from graduate students in my middle school reading class - with questions about the assessment project that they are currently working on. I had intended to create the scoring guides with the students but decided to ditch that when I ran out of time during two consecutive classes. Looking back, perhaps I should have eliminated something else. In any case, the irony of my authoring a chapter that addressed creating scoring guides with students and simultaneously handling so many questions about an assignment because I had chosen not to involve students in creating the scoring guide for the assignment was not lost on me. Once again, I have not modeled behaviors I want to promote in my own students.

The least I could have done was to have the scoring guides ready at the beginning of the semester, but I didn't even have my act that together! I'm hoping that students in class will see how frustrating this has been for them and intuit that creating criteria with students or providing the criteria when an assignment is made will save their own students from just such frustration. Wish I could say I had done it on purpose to make a point with them - but I just goofed!

8 comments:

Melanie Callahan said...

The irony is pretty funny. But I completely understand how it would happen. It is difficult to juggle so many things. I used to be so prepared and organized well in advance, but now with 2 grad sch classes, student teaching, and juggling a husband and a 3 year old in the mix- it is amazing for me to have anything done on time, not in advance! So I appreciate much more the strategies you give that requires very little teacher prep as that is most necessary at this time!

Penny Kirkpatrick said...

I'm right there with you. I am the type of person who likes to be prepared ahead of time and on top of everything. I must admit that this semester is pushing my limits! Besides the time constraints, I have also noticed that, in spite of my best efforts, I simply cannot anticipate everything. I am having to get used to the idea that sometimes you just have to learn from the situation and change it the next time, and sometimes you just have to punt!

Julie Lance said...

I understand this completely. I am very Type-A and want to prepare for everything, but in the limited amount of time I seem to have, it just does not always work out that way. I had a similar experience last semester during my practicum. The CT I was observing assigned a project, but did not give a rubric. Oh the insanity! The confusion and questions that she fielded took up way more time than it would have taken for her to have designed a rubric. A rubric would have also allowed her solid backup on the grades she had given on the projects. Lesson learned for me!

wpatterson said...

I am with everyone else. To call me Type-A would be an understatement! ST has been a great experience, and one that has taught me to lighten up a little. When I try to anticipate every question or every angle the students may have, I get such a headache and still fail to get where they are coming from. Communication with students is sucha tricky thing. I know in my mind what I want to say and want them to do, yet communicating that out perfectly to them is truly an artform. Also, it is funny to see those Type A students get upset with me, and I wonder...am I like that with my teachers too?

jvaughn said...

It is good to see that even teachers with experience sometimes run out of time, and everything doesn't work out just the way you plan. I think that this whole program has taught me how to be aware of your students and how things can change at any moment without notice. I am a person that likes to plan in advance, but yet I am always open to change. As one professor in this program likes to say, "Watch out for that technology, it might blow up on you." I think I will take away some good from that saying by learning to always have something in my back pocket that I can use just in case a lesson doesn't go the way I intended for it to go. If everything went the way you planned it to, then your life wouldn't be any fun, and you would not have any excitement. I think that has a lot to do with the two CT's that I have had, both have liked to have plans set for weeks at a time, but yet give themselves room to be flexible within those plans.

Cjacobs said...

I think it's easy to see when things don't work out. It is easy to see when the greatest intention affects students in a negative way. For example - my students just had a vocabulary quiz and I then realized that I didn't even teach them the words - just gave it to them. I guess a teacher's first priority should always be to teach the students in the best possible way - and that means planning ahead - trying to forsee what issues might arise...

Alison Montgomery said...

I think one of the most admirable traits a teacher can have is the ability to admit their mistakes. Your example has helped me realize that there will always be some oversights when planning and I just need to be flexible and expect it. This is one of the things that my supervisor told me yesterday. She said I try too hard to stick to the plan exactly and I need to learn when I should deviate from it. Your example also tells me that I will never stop learning and adjusting my plans when I become a teacher.

Chuck Hall said...

I find that I am my own "biggest critic" when I fail to model the appropriate behavior in teaching situations. I find myself being overly critical of myself rather than just "getting on with it." I think that your students have more than forgiven you just like mine have forgiven me when I have fallen short. Sometimes I think that we as teachers focus on the negatives rather than realizing that the positives far outweigh the negatives. Good plans are solid and effective, but always open to change. That in itself is probably what makes them "good plans"