Middle of the Road and Self Reflection

With the weather outside finally looking frightful, I figured I could do more good writing my blog than spending time outside like I have the last couple of days.

Today was very interesting in a number of different ways. I can’t tell you how much I have been really enjoying our staff meetings this year that are led by our principal. He truly is trying to think outside of the box and make changes in a positive direction. His leadership is excellent and I always feel really good when I leave our meetings.

Today, we first discussed the idea of “tracking” students. What this would mean for our school district is students would be put into classes based on abilities. For instance, higher achieving students would be placed in one class and the lower achieving students would be placed in another class. Though we didn’t place a concrete definition of “low achieving”, the conversation revolved around students who were C, D, and F students. Furthermore, the low achieving students tend to be more chatty, and have difficulty turning in their homework. During the conversation, the term “middle of the road” students reoccured. With the idea of tracking being discussed, curriculum itself would stay the same. However, the higher achieving students would be able to move at a faster pace and essentially do extra “work”. Now, if you think about the lower achieving students, they still need to meet the same standards set by the curriculum. If these lower achieving students are supposed to meet the same standards how are they going to achieve this feat if they are not moving fast and we are tracking them in a lower level class. My counselor put it best when she said we pay so much attention to the lower achieving students and and on occasion we will help higher achieving students reach new heights, but what about the students who are in the “middle of the road” who are not doing well with the curriculum or meeting our expectations? Too me, this is a great question. In reality we need to think about how we approach these two group of students. As my brain was soaking all of this in, I wanted to say we need to stop being selfish and realize we all need to make changes with the way we teach and approach the students. If we open our minds to new ideas, we may have an impact on more of the student population.

The second part of our meeting was about teacher evaluations. The state of Michigan is supposed to have an evaluation piece in place in April. This evaluation piece will let school districts know how teachers are supposed to be evaluated by an administrator. Our principal today shared how he will do non-formal evaluations and it was very intriguing. He found an application for his Ipad and it looks like a very informative assessment tool. I really like what my principal said about having evaluations done. He told us that evaluations are tools for us to help us be better teachers. They are not tools in which to ridicule our teaching style. We need to be able to handle constructive criticism and be able to change things about our teaching to help the students. These past few weeks I have been considering ways I can improve my own teaching. I know I am not reaching every student and I know I need to work on being better organized in certain areas. Furthermore, I need to look at different ways to assess certain standards in the curriculum. I think we need to self evaluate ourselves to be successful in addition to our more formal evaluations. We need to be willing to change what doesn’t work in our classroom. I sense big changes coming for me second semester as I evaluate myself and I sense some heated discussions that will lead to making more of our students reach success.

Cheers!

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One Comment on “Middle of the Road and Self Reflection”

  1. Tracking is tricky business that has to be considered with great care. Rather than tracking, I am a fan of targeted, short term, flexible grouping for specific needs and mixed groups with multiple entry/exit points based on similar interests for project base learning modules. If you’ve ever taught a regular-size, “low” group, you know that there tends to be a sense of low self esteem to begin with just because they are all grouped together for that reason. Last night I went to a talk about the achievement gap–one message was that we have to give all students an “honors” education–all students are smart and capable of achieving and we have to find the ways to develop that success. Thanks for sharing your thinking, and prompting me to think more deeply about how we best meet the needs of all learners.


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