Sunday, October 04, 2015

Mr. Silva-Brown’s Report Card, Part Four: Analyzing the data; 2015 edition

I can’t believe that I forgot to post this!  Believe it or not I completed parts 1-3 about two months ago so this is a little late. 

But it’s also a really good update assessment tool.  So, I’ll leave the old text and add on current comments in bold.  Let’s see if I learned anything.

There is plenty to take away from my 2015 student reviews. 

-There seems to be a fine line between some students saying I’m fun and passionate, and some saying I’m mean.  I see two reasons for this.  First is that my temperament changes around November, which is probably connected to my energy level having to do with the start of basketball season.  I get a bit grumpier, a bit less patient, and my tolerance for tomfoolery and highjinks starts to wane.  The second reason has to do with the end of Homecoming, the holidays, and my attendance consistency.  Homecoming usually ends around mid-October, and at this point the students realize that school is not going to just be about floats, spirit rallies, insulting each other, and a bell.  They actually need to lock down and when the holidays show up, the academics start to slide.  Families take multiple week vacations, Winter sports start hitting student time management, and my standards remain consistent.  Push back commences and get labeled as mean.  Case in point; I had one student say that I was rude to students and colleagues, and that I had little or no respect for students, and that I was despicable.  That was the worst comment I got and was pretty much the only super negative one.  But if you read the rest of the students review one thing stands out over and over again.  Attendance.  I was power hungry with my tardy policy.  I was ridiculous with Attendance Contracts.  It was stupid that I would mark students tardy if they showed up ten seconds late.  It was an AP student that was pissed that past teachers didn’t hold the student accountable, probably because the student was in AP classes. 

So what do?  Well, I’m not changing my attendance policy.  At all.  We have become a culture that doesn’t want to pay attention to detail and the simplest detail is showing up on time and doing your work on time.  Ask around to businesses locally and they tell you that it is amazing that the youth labor pool expects the employer to adjust the schedule for the worker, not the other way around. 

The year is young and attendance is still an issue.  It’s clearly not being met with the same kind of anger as past years.  But grades will be coming out in the next few weeks and that will be an interesting first look at whether or not I’m a mean old bastard.

The second thing?  My summer trips have really gave me time to reflect on what it is to be a successful human being.  That sounds weird except that I can’t really describe it any other way.  I’m limited to the amount of human capital I can put to any one endeavor because I am, well, human.  Within that restriction I want to be the best husband, teacher, coach, citizen, person, advocate that I can.  But I’m suffering from scarcity, big time.  So the logical thing is to prioritize.  The problem is that I work in a job that has very interesting ideas on the concept of prioritizing.  I didn’t participate in summer basketball this year.  Instead (as you might have been reading) I took a summer long road trip to heal, strengthen, and engage my soul;  and I did it with my partner.  Well I took some criticism apparently, from some local coaches and some of  my program’s parents.  The commentary was that I wasn’t committed.  This is an insanely idiotic claim.  Here’s a little trivia; name the two active coaches who have coached the longest consecutive years in the North Bay League.  Go ahead, I’ll give you you a moment.


1)  Coach Brown – Ukiah High School

2)  Tom Bonfigli – Cardinal Newman High School

That’s a little bit cheating because Coach Bonfigli was involved with Cardinal Newman for some 15 years, left for awhile, and has coached at Newman since 2007.   I don’t see myself in the same galaxy as Bonfigli, and I’ve spent 13 of my 14 years as the Frosh and JV coach.  However I’ve pretty much committed my life blood for years to Ukiah basketball.  So, that argument is bunk.  I’m a teacher and a husband as well, and when you rank those things against each other…..well….the other people are the ones that seem to have it totally warped.  But who knows.  Maybe I make the change or maybe the change makes me.

I’ve actually heard nothing negative about basketball since the school year began and the numbers showing up for Fall Basketball (AAU) are better than they have been in five or six years.  We’ll see how it goes when the season starts.

-Ok, so I don’t know if you have noticed but the assignment thing is absolutely a problem for me.  I’m taking too long, again, to get assignments graded and there is no excuse at all for the delay.  This year I wanted to commit on getting things done quicker, and I didn’t.  I’m trying to figure out why this is and I’m just not prioritizing returning all papers.  I prioritize some but things like quizzes are put off in the grade book until later.  Note, students really didn’t care about getting the work back as a method of assessing their progress.  They wanted to know grades. 

And I’m still getting behind.

-Speaking of grades, I hate make-up work.  Hate it, hate it, hate it.  Let’s do a little pro/con list for make-up work

Pro:  Students might learn the material from retaking quiz.

Con:  Everything else.

Make-up work has created more work for me, taken up my lunch time, inflated grades, and created an entitled culture that has students dependent on make-up work.  Don’t worry about doing it right the first time, the safety net is there.  That ends.  Now.  It is a two year experiment that has resulted in no real academic progress.

-There is plenty of room for growth here and the great thing about what I do is that I’m continually excited to make my teaching better and better.  I still get those moments when the ideas whirl in my brain and I need to sit down and brainstorm engaging ideas that students will learn from.         

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