Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Learning Continues

March Break is drawing to a close, and of course I have spent the majority of my time lying on the couch trying to get over this cold. It has made getting my errands finished quite difficult, not to mention being sick is rather annoying. But I guess I expected to fall ill this week - being fine on Monday just gave me false hope.

The Semester is shaping up to be a relatively interesting one. My Grade 11 class has been tough, it's a pretty good class but we do not have textbooks for this "new" Grade 11 course. And the department doesn't have a day-to-day outline set up either so it has been really easy for me to miss things as I go. As a result their tests have been a tad difficult, and on the unfair side. Something I totally recognize and am working to correct for them (I adjusted one of the tests even). What really got me was that I had to find out how they felt through the Grapevine of my former students - at least I know that those students still had some respect for me. Anyway, I got the class to do a Start Stop Continue reflection for me and reiterated that it is their class and they need to speak up so that I hear it from them. Hopefully this has shown them that I am willing to make changes and that I do want them to succeed. Hopefully. Hence, my learning I expect it to for the rest of my career!

We had a curriculum development day for Math recently so I spent some of my time creating an authentic assessment for the quadratic relations unit for the Grade 10 Academic course. I already have one for the Analytic Geometry Unit so it made sense to try to have one for each of the units in the course (one more to go). I want to give my students who have trouble on tests the opportunity to show their understanding...which will hopefully help them to be successful in the long run - maybe it can help them build some self-confidence. The goal is for the assessments to look at a variety of skills and communications and be graded through a rubric. The rubric allows students to know exactly what I am looking for and allows for a shorter marking time.

Finally, Grade 9 Science. Interesting to say the least. Chemistry is almost finished. It was a lot of lab/activities so it was hands on for the students and we had a practical test so they could show us what they had learned in an appropriate way. It seems as though leading off with this unit may have given them a misconception of a lazy teacher in front of them, but this is generally the way the department goes through Chemistry - and seeing as though it is my first time through and Chem is NOT my thing I guess it has gone relatively well. One thing is for sure, this has involved a lot of written formative feedback. We return for one last lesson or two on compounds and their summative lab assessment before moving onto Earth and Space Sciences.

Needless to say I've had my ups and downs so far this semester, but it has also reaffirmed that I love teaching and that working with my colleagues at this school has been an amazing experience.

I guess the next two weeks will tell if I get to spend another year with them or not. Here's to hoping!