Sunday, September 19, 2010

Month 1: Cell Phones, EDI, and great flow

I know that the year is fully in swing when already the “cinch notices” appear in my teacher box.  A cinch notice is the official way that we notify parents that their child is not doing well, and could fail the course.  Care must be taken in marking cinch notices because if you don’t send one to a failing student, they are basically not allowed to be failed. 

The number one problem within this first month is the cell phone, and the second problem isn’t even on the radar compared to this device.  I’ve taken three phones already this year for 24 hrs, had one parent come in and get it for the student, and have gave numerous warnings.  My cell phone policy if pretty rational.  If the phone goes off in class, they turn it off and there is no fuss.  The problem is texting.  Students texting have the phones taken away for 24 hours or until a parent visits.  Even with the obvious enforcement, students seem to have no fear in using the little devices.  The easy way would be to suspend them every time the phone comes out.  Two problems.  First, I want the students in my class.  Two, I better be totally right about the texting or the incident could become bigger.  By simply taking the phone I make the incident about my classroom and it goes no further.

Explicit Direct Instruction, or EDI, is the new mandate from the District thanks to our wonderful third year of Program Improvement.  It really is the nightmare scenario for a high school teacher looking to get students to think at a higher level.  While the parent company DataWorks insists that it is not scripted, the format of EDI requires you to rigorously follow an outline that is basically not to be deviated from.  While the methodology that is used is solid (checking for understanding, breaking down standards, establishing learning objectives), the structure is made for elementary lessons, low-level learners, and English Language Learners.  Since I was involved in the training this summer (everyone will have to be trained within two years), I’ve been told I get to be a little bit of a guinea pig.  An advisor came in and did a lesson which my kids politely sat through, and then debriefed in an extremely negative fashion.  EDI leaves no room for questions, does not allow alternative discussion, and made my students feel like junior high school kids.  Once again testing forces teaching to the lowest common denominator.

My first month flow is pretty fabulous.  I changed up some things about Economics to make it more Macro focused, and have slowed down in Government to make the core foundations of the Constitution the main idea of the class.  I’m also over a week ahead in APUSH, and that’s without some of the changes I made to save time down the road.  Class management has no real problems at this point.  Two classes have groups that enjoy making themselves known to everyone, all the time, but for the most part they are under control.  First grade notifications went out this week, and believe it or not I have students that are failing.  Actually, when you compare attendance to grades, it isn’t hard to believe at all.  I have students that have already made the choice of missing one to two days a week and they are now going to feel it.

blog comments powered by Disqus