Moving on from a Bomb

March 3, 2011 at 12:39 PM Leave a comment

Remember when a teacher gave you back an “F” test and added insult to injury by yelling at the whole class about what lazy idiots you all were? My reaction – assume the teacher hates us, hate her back again and dismiss any learning from the test. (Or anything else she taught for maybe the rest of the school year.)

Short answer test at the end of a 3 week Polymers and Biochem unit was pretty much a bomb.

I was especially sad that so few were able to answer “Why are polymers important to learn about?”

The grapevine was working and the later periods came in ready for blood.

Here’s what I did (or tried to do):

  • Was matter of fact, calm and open to suggestions. 
  • Outlined the redo policy (Up to a C, a slightly different test. They get that redo grade even if it’s lower.)
  • Put up the answers and ask for any questions, concerns ex. if a question is unfair or confusing, or the concept unclear.
  • Had kids write in the correct responses.
  • Kept things moving along, did not read out every question and beat them with the correct answer (tempting but, no.)
  • Connected what we are doing to the HS science standards.
  • Took their suggestions seriously. Sometimes went back to look over details for a reality check.
  • When I began to feel defensive, I cut off the questioning and followed up with the student individually later.  (Stops a student grand-standing at my expense but does answer real concerns and lets me be more thoughtful in responding.)
  • Followed up with individuals to encourage them and check in with if they now understood the material and  expectations.
  • Ended on an upbeat note with their POP multi-medias due TODAY. Which were OMG, amazing. More later.

Here’s some reasons for the bomb from them, and upon reflection:

  • Many were unclear that they should study from their lab sheets and my uploaded notes FIRST and use the text as a back-up resource instead of only the text.
  • Many are really busy and didn’t take time to study.
  • Yeah, there’s all kinds of cultural reasons that higher level thinking is not valued blah, blah. Can’t change that.
  • Many don’t have the maturity to understand the connection between finishing lab sheets thoughtfully, understanding the material and doing well on tests. aka actually learning something. I didn’t grade their lab sheets this unit.
  • I was stressed with developing and resourcing brand-new labs. They felt that as my being a bit rushed and impatient I think.
  • I didn’t take time to go round table by table to give them feedback on their work and check their understanding. That’s my fault. It’s all about relationships and that’s a one-by-one endeavor.

So we all have to look after ourselves and each other a bit better. Calm down, do fewer things better. I’m home sick today, lost my voice. I’m sure there’s no connection 🙂

I’m grateful for their resilience in the face of some bad news. An “F” is pretty harsh, especially in our community. We’re going to do better next time.


Entry filed under: Assessment and grading, Class Management, Polymers.

A class of grown-ups is different… TAP News…

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