Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer Relfections part 3- The issues

So rather than being my normal rambling wordy self, I'm going to essentially put down bullets of my own self-critique for this year (and in general I suppose).  I talk about implications in part 5, which I may not get to today...

I left the actual paper I'd brainstormed on at school, but here are the high (low) points that I can recall:

  1. I fear I may have been guilty of unconsciously projecting low expectations for some of my students.  (I don't want to explain too much in a bullet list, but basically I mean that since I allow in any kids who meet the prereq classes, I fear that some of them may sense that I know they are struggling and internally I suspect they may not get 3s or above) This is the most damning one to me, so I'll lead with it.  I'm trying to get my my around it with a lot of thought, prayer, and planning.
  2. As mentioned in part 1, I fear my leniency with deadlines led to complacency among my students, turning in labs late, waiting until the last minute to do HW.
  3. Homework, yeah, for the last couple of years, my philosophy has been that none of my university college teachers checked HW, they assigned it, and then let the chips fall where they may.  I did the same, had them check their own work in solutions guide, then gave a cursory glance that they did it, gave them points on the test for it. (more complex, but again, bullet list).  That led to a lot of students waiting til the last minute, on test day, therefore not asking questions when we were on the topics.  
  4. Daily quizzes (actually usually every other day) were short, graded in class, based solely on HW and nightly reading.  They were also almost always universally awful. I didn't use this information quickly to change practices as one should with formative assessments, and I don't think my students took it very seriously, just took an F on it and went on as their point value was low.
  5. Coddling- If you would have told me at any point in my teaching career that I was coddling students, I would have raged. I believe strongly in having high expectations of knowledge and problem solving, but have usually been willing to bend on timelines, etc.  I think I did waaaaaay too much of that this year and think that led to students taking advantage of that, rationally so, and therefore, not doing their best.
  6. Overly Encouraging- I know, that sounds ludicrous...teachers should be encouraging, I believe strongly in building students up.  Actually, what I really believe is what one of the previous year's students said to my prospects for next year, "taking them apart and putting them back together". In other words, making them realize that being smart or working hard like they've always done isn't good enough.  This year, I think I was too encouraging, leading them to believe that it was always ok....sometimes it ain't ok, sometimes a little panic and worry is a good thing.
  7. Labs--I think we did too many/and or spent too much time on them this year.  We did 17, which is one more than the minimum required, but as many have noted, the labs are sort of incidental, students can do well on the test without those labs.  I love the labs, but I think we've definitely been doing them wrong and spent too much time on them.
Those are what I call systemic or philosophical issues.  It's hard for me to fathom, but I think my student-centered approach has backfired and needs revamped substantially.  I have some ideas on that that I may cover in part 5 of this reflection if I get there.  Part 4 is coming with another big possibility that I didn't mention in this list...

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