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101

Apparently, my school district is blocking blogger now. I shouldn’t say it’s my school district. It’s the automated software that is blocking it. Oh well, I’ll just take my blogs down as a note in Keep and transfer it when I get home.

It’s kind of ironic that this post is labeled 101. 101 being considered back to the basics. Today was running at an excellent start and was feeling really good as the day progressed. Then, 4th hour hit me like a ton of bricks. More to that later.

One thing that I have noticed that really boosts my mood is when I get to interact with students 1 on 1. I am not quite sure why this is, but I definitely feel a heightened sense of purpose and happiness after teaching a student something in a more personalized way. Today I got that chance and I walked away feeling really good. I think it’s because you not only make a personal connection with the student, you also get immediate feedback by seeing if the student understands the concept. When you are teaching in a full room, that feedback is often as impersonal as a phone call to your ISP. You can actually feel the difference you are making in that student’s life as you guide them along with the goal of them doing the learning, not you doing the talking. I think sometimes we just need reminders of that.

Back to 101. One thing that I noticed (or rather became glaringly apparent) in one of my classes is that we have just done a shit job of basic teaching protocol. I think back to opportunities for formatives and see how the ones we did offer were not substantial to the overall progress of student learning. I think the assumption we made was that we would review all the material every day. The real truth in teaching is when you use formative assessments to guide what you are teaching and how you are teaching it. I don’t think we really changed anything we were teaching over the past few weeks together.
Another thing that I need to start doing as an EL co-teacher is ask the question “why?” Why are we doing this? What standard does this cover? How can they show us this knowledge in another way? I realized this on Friday as I was grading half the tests and could clearly see student thinking was headed in the right direction, but was lost in point grading based on accuracy instead of content. Mentally, I am struggling with the idea of preparing students for college, which will invariably be scored in the traditional way, vs teaching students the content in a way that will be most beneficial and impact their lives in the future. It’s a tough divide. I can just hear my right leaning, very traditional friends voices in the back of my head now ostracizing me for not grading students according to the “good ole days.” On the opposite end, I see happy students who are learning and developing. One side faces an uncertain future in a college system locked in the past. The other side, while certainly having more longer lasting knowledge and wisdom, will struggle in the traditional academic world.

Yesterday while doing my homework I noticed a quote from Sonia Nieto. It’s too long to post here but basically, it has a message that I think we all need to take away. Basically, she stated that the superficial treatment of teaching strategies for EL learners (which can also apply to a wide range of students) does little to change the student and teacher perceptions of school and ultimately, alter student performance. As I think about which direction I should go between grading students in a rigid manner or approach learning in a more meaningful sense, this quote makes the decision that much easier.

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