Friday, July 04, 2014

Mr. Silva-Brown’s Report Card, Part Four: Analyzing the data; 2014 edition

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I haven’t the slightest damn clue how I received a high score from kids, or how I received the Distinguished Educator Award from the Senior Class.  I am not being a fisher here, I honestly think that this was my hardest year and maybe some of my poorer teaching.  I was often stressed beyond all belief for the first time maybe since I began teaching.  Why was that?  And what connection does it have to the data I just listed?

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Notice the problem of keeping grades updated, again.  This time the updating of grades went for long periods of time and therefore I really tried the push the “don’t worry about the grade, concentrate on the learning” concept.  Yea it didn’t work.  Fat chance that you will get Seniors that have been told their whole life to care about grades to suddenly not care about grades.  So what to do?  Simple.  I need to get it done. 

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So I allowed a policy of making up any assignments, even if you did poorly on it initially and the result was just plain lame.  The Advanced Placement students took advantage of it almost exclusively.  The only other students that took advantage of the make-up policy were those that might fail at the end of the year.  Those that cared tried to relearn the information.  Those that didn’t….didn’t. 

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I’m mean to office TAs.  Get over it.  They are annoying and seemingly unending, and most have no sense of humor, no spine, and some even have the gall to engage my students while I’m teaching. 

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Remember this?

  “I don’t think it’s necessary to give recommendations because Silva-Brown does not treat his students with respect so I don’t think my opinions would be valued.”

First of all, I wouldn’t be giving out the surveys if I didn’t value opinions.  It would be a total waste of my time and the students’ time.  But this comment is one that I do ignore, not because I don’t value my students’ opinions, I just don’t value this student’s opinion.  Know you might be thinking “Shouldn’t you value every students’ opinion?  Doesn’t that make your class better?”  Um, the answer is no.  Lest we forget that we are dealing with homo-teenagerous, and the input they give is often laced with teenagisms that they believe are correct.  For instance, someone (like this) that has a horrid rate of attendance should not be complaining about the lack of detail of in-class instruction.  Someone who openly disrespects other students should not be giving grand seminars on the lack of respect that is afforded to themselves.  In Economics there are terms for these kinds of people.  Outliers.  When I read this information every year I look for patterns.

-Do the lectures still work?

-Do I have the right balance of interactivity?

-Does my sarcasm go too far?

-Does basketball season impact my instruction?

-Do people use online programs? 

-Does the tardy policy, dress code policy, cell phone policy, waste basket shooting policy, all seem fair?  (notice you saw nothing about tardies and cell phones, and I am hard core on both)

When I see trends, I need to act.  The grades thing is a now beyond a problem, it is actually something that is eating away at me becoming a better teacher.  It must, MUST change.  The teacher aide comment shows that my sarcasm might have been a little far this year.  I’ll blame stress and lack of rest and work on it.  But “lack of respect for students” is an outlier.  Period.  Therefore, I keep it like I keep all the surveys I’ve ever passed out, yet I don’t really act on it because its an inane analysis. 

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The great national nightmare is finally over. 

No not the school year; teaching APUSH.  AP U.S. History was the hardest class I’ve ever had to teach.  It wasn’t the students at all.  It was the content.  The meticulous, idiotic minutia of the content required for the class.  It could easily make someone really dislike history.  It was the writing and the grading and the grading and the grading.  It was extremely hard to engage students and get them prepared for the test at the same time.  I took the class about five years ago because no one else would take it.  My scores were good, I worked to create and evolve good content, and eventually I got to the point where now sixty people are signed up to take APUSH next year.  Well, I’m not teaching it, and I’m ok with that.  It’s pretty much a relief. 

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  Basketball created a massive amount of stress this year.  I coached both the Frosh and JV teams, there were personnel issues, the old varsity coach was removed, I took his place, and I have a posse of people that are really hoping that Ukiah Basketball fails.  That stress won’t be there this year because now it’s all my responsibility, which isn’t really as stressful as you might think.  The buck now stops with me and I’m more than willing to take that on.  Although it is new to me to have people writing against you in the local paper, especially when the season is months away.

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I think this year worked because I love what I do.  I love to teach, and Seniors are amazingly patient when you show them that you care about them and you care about the job.  I’ve been hard on myself this Summer and upon reading the student surveys, there is always room to get better.  But the fact that I wake up every morning and get to do this still blows my mind.  I get tired, I get cranky, I lose energy sure.  But it is all worth it to have this feeling every day.   

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