Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Regrets and Plans, part 1

I have a ton of regrets from last year and boo-koos of plans for this year. I'm feeling the need to write about them, and I've been inspired reading so many others discuss these things. This post pushed me over the edge to go ahead and start writing. I decided to split this post into 3 parts; part 1 will be a rendition of the ways I screwed up last year and here's to hoping I didn't doom my students to perpetual science failure.  Part 2 will be a rendition of what went well and what activities students loved. Part 3 will be a, hopefully, organized presentation of my plans for this year to rectify my mistakes and make general improvements (and keep the good stuff).

What I regret about last year:
1. I had no plan or system for determining grades or giving grades. Students got credit for doing homework, there was the occasional quiz, and topical tests. Eventually, I added in a daily participation grade, especially because, for example, the grammar 4 science was more about doing the activities and talking about it than being able to answer questions on a piece of paper. I wanted them to be able to tell me why the rubber-band paddle boat worked, in their own words, not be able to write out the definition of elastic potential energy.

2. I wrote/figured out the test when I was ready to give a test. I should have created the test right after I established the objectives/standards for the topic, which the test could then drive my lesson plans and give me a tool for establishing exactly what I want the kids to know; instead I usually had to write the test around did-I-actually-talk-about-that?

3. I didn't know what I wanted the students to know. I had a general idea of "I want them to know about chemistry", but what should they be able to spout back about chemistry? It was all very nebulous.

4. I was too nice. I'm a push over, always have been; I started working hard last year to be mean, without being cruel, but when you start out too nice, its hard to go back.

5. I lacked confidence in myself to really be able to teach this stuff. I know this stuff, I love this stuff, I dream about this stuff (this stuff being science: chemistry and biology especially), but I doubted my ability to create lessons that students would learn from and truly enjoy, even students who don't naturally LOVE this stuff.

6. I procrastinated about grading papers, inputing attendance and grades, and just keeping up. I was lazy about lesson plans plenty of times, when I got behind and needed something NOW.

7. I always felt behind. I never really felt caught up or on time.

As I reflected here, I don't think I ruined any of my students. They still had fun, and as I've seen one or two over the summer, they seem happy to see me.

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