Saturday, July 26, 2008

Status Quo

I am not a revolutionary. I tend to follow the status quo. I do not question authority or the way things are unless they really stand out as being bizarre. However, the last class I took this summer for my Masters made me change that way of thinking about teaching. The professor asked us to question what we were doing and make sure it was for the good of the student--not just because that's the way things had been or that's what other people did.

In a lot of ways, it put me out of my comfort zones. In a lot of ways, I didn't agree with what she was questioning. But, also in a lot of ways, I found things that didn't make sense, that I should change, and that I should question.

In my class we never discussed grading. Homework and failing and discipline, yes, but never grading. So, I found this post by Ms. Teacher extremely interesting. I know so many of my students last year who would have said "JUST GIVE ME THE ZERO." And I totally agree with Dr. Reeves that giving up is not the answer we should be teaching our students.

On the other hand, I wonder how we make them do the work. Yes, sometimes students are just busy and can't get the work done in the time allotted, sometimes they don't understand the work--but sometimes they just don't want to do it. My question is HOW do we make them do the work? Sure, I can give them all year to do it--but if they don't want to--are they going to?

It's questions like this that make me uneasy--because it gets caught up with all these other questions I don't have answers for. And it leaves me in that position of feeling like there is NO answer.

And maybe there isn't, but I don't want a zero in life... so I just keep plugging along.


ms-teacher said...

Last year, I had students come in at lunch time to do missing work. However, I also give a 50% if they absolutely refuse to come in and get anything done. A 50% in any gradebook is still equivalent to an "F". However, my students understand that if they start getting work done, then they have a greater chance of passing at a 50% than they would have a 20 or 30% due to giving either zeros or anything below 50%.

When a student sees they have a 20%, they are much less willing to try and so give up. When they see they have a 50%, they understand that with effort, they can get the job done.

The Non Catholic said...

I definitely see your point. I like the idea. It's just a number, whether it's a zero or a 50%, but the 50% is not going to make them feel like they can't overcome it. However, it irks the traditional part of me that I should "give" a student 50% when they didn't do anything. But, if my goal is student achievement, I suppose it shouldn't matter where they start at--it's just a number. I think I'll have to wrestle with that one a little while. Thanks for keeping me thinking!