Sunday, March 18, 2012

Whirling

It’s one of those weekends that my mind is on overdrive.  I mean, have you been watching the NCAA Tournament lately?  Norfolk State and Lehigh?  Are you serious?  Hell, not even Kim Jung Un would have the Godly presence to choose those teams to advance.

Actually the tournament has been a nice respite from the academic world that has engulfed me.  Current list of work related issues:

1)  Grades are due Wednesday and I am behind and I continue to get behind.  Simply put I have an enormous of amount of make-up work that is piled up in my bin from all the varieties of absences that students are signed out from by their parents (or not).  Every day for the last month I’ve had at least two students at lunch making up tests or quizzes.  It is, quite frankly, ridiculous.  It also creates a lot more work for me; work that is basically done last.  That doesn’t prevent those that are chronically absent from whining about their grade either.  What it means is weekends like this one full of grading and quite a few hours after school imputing grades. Ugh.

2)  I’m off to Philadelphia this weekend for EdCamp Social Studies.  The ultimate in professional development is going to be a great meet-up for those history geeks that also like some technology in their pedagogy.  I’m totally excited to interact with educators that are more geared towards my leanings in getting kids to think, not necessarily test.  But it’s still travelling across the country and it’s still missing two days of school.  Sub plans need to be made.  By the way, any teacher that says that missing school has no costs is one that needs to be fired.  It causes more work.  Period.

3)  Two things are happening parallel to each other at this time of year; I’m cramming information with more direct instruction (breaking the 20 minute lecture rule), and I’m reflecting on how to make my class better for next year.  I’m feeling less and less like a decent teacher the more I direct instruct.  I’m almost bored with it.  The solution that is present before me is “flipping the classroom”, which has always brought forth all kinds of skepticism with me.  Well, I spent part of the weekend on Ramsey Musallam’s website and I’m at the excited phase where the possibilities become endless.  Only it is tempered by the realities of where I work and the questions start to seep in; how much extra work am I adding to my large load, what do I do about the the high absence rate, how do I overcome the lack of technological infrastructure?  Some of these questions were answered this weekend by a variety of Twitter Tweeps that showed me that the flip is not about changing teaching as much it’s about making it better, if that makes any sense.  Pinterest, Google Forms, Hippocampus, the support sites for my textbooks, Educreations….all of the sudden “flipping” can start to gather enough support structures to allow me to document and justify grades to parents.  And before you say “it isn’t about the grade, it’s about learning”, you and I might feel that way but Johnny’s Mom is going to want a very clear cut answer about why he’s got a C.  That’s just the way it is.

So my weekend has not been relaxing, and that’s ok from the excitement point of view.  It’s March and I’m already looking forward to next year.  Actually, I need to change some things right now, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.   

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