Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And the mistakes just keep on coming

Spring break is over. What a depressing thought! Now, we all just have to endure until the end of the semester – and these MAT students are weeks away from graduation, so I suppose its natural for them to have “senioritis” of a sorts. They are exhausted from student teaching and to make matters worse, I’ve pushed them ever closer to the proverbial edge in READ 867. I sure hope they learn from my mistakes, because I’ve made a ton of them this semester, each one seems to be worse than the first.

During spring break, I got several e-mails from students asking about what was a rather vexing assignment they had been given in the last class. In addition to preparing for the struggling learner jigsaw, I had directed them to read Chapter 10 and to choose two strategies they might use instructionally: one informal grouping strategy and one for cooperative learning groups. Sounds simple enough, right? Except that in my haste to get the assignment pulled together, I had a typo – it was chapter 9 that focused on grouping strategies. Chapter 10 focused on struggling learners. I don’t know whether it was fortunate that the two topics are so interrelated in my Jigsaw or whether that just confused students more. My intention had been to prepare them to read chapter 10 through the struggling adolescent learner Jigsaw. Oh well, the best laid plans of mice and men as they say. What a mess!

So I’ll have to somehow use this mistake to their advantage – and fortunately, after teaching a hundred years, I can figure out a way to do that. Students will share whatever strategies they chose from each of the chapters – then read the alternate chapter for next class. Seems easy, but I feel an ambush coming on. Discussions are richer when students have read different articles or information on similar topics, and that’s what I’m counting on . . . but it feels a bit uneasy to have this almost too-easy solution pop up so quickly, and seem so perfect. Nothing is, of course – but we’ll see.

5 comments:

Jen Levy said...

It worked out well as a student in your class. I liked that we had very different ideas that we were able to share. I also liked that you understand about the senoritis. :)

Julie Lance said...

Everything seemed to work out in the end - no harm, no foul. As teachers, we have to learn to expect the unexpected, right? The fact that we were able to get into groups to discuss our ideas was certainly a help to the ones who read Ch. 10 instead of Ch. 9. I have used some of the strategies we have learned in class in my own classroom, and they have been a success. And yes - I have senioritis!

Melanie Callahan said...

Well at least you didn't read the whole wrong article that wasn't even posted on blackboard anymore. It could have been worse. Knowing that you make mistakes and can easily make it right is helpful to me and makes less pressure to be perfect. Of course that is assuming any of us get jobs. :)

Curtis W. Smith said...

We all make mistakes. I think one of the best attributes a teacher can have is flexibility. I realized this need for flexibility this semester when I discovered a mistake I made two days before giving a unit test to my students. When I planned the unit and made all of the necessary study materials, I mistakenly omitted several questions on the review sheet that the students needed to know for the test. I was able to scramble and have every student add the questions to their study guide the day before the test, but I was prepared to deal with missed test questions and unhappy students on test day. Fortunately, things seemed to work out alright. Thanks, Dr. Gillis, for your flexibility with the assignment. It was a good lesson for us all!

Chuck Hall said...

Sometimes fate can turn a mistake into a masterpiece. i am sure that your years of experience have shown you both sides of the coin. I appreciate when a teacher is flexible. It usually works best when they are flexible. Students will always be more forgiving to a flexible teacher. It's the inflexible ones you have to worry about... but sooner or later they will be snared by their own inflexibility.