Skip to main content

The Best Laid Plans...

This is a tale of a project that didn't work quite the way I wanted.  For the last weeks of school I turned my classroom over to the students and allowed them to plan and teach the lessons.  It was kind of a mess.  So, I guess they did teach me something and maybe next year I can turn this failure of a project into a success.

The beginning of June came (as it thankfully always does). I had one unit left to teach and 140 7th graders to keep focused until June 28. I had a great idea.  Assign standards to the students, teach them about planning a class and let them teach the classes until the end of the year.  Perfect! They would learn the new material and practice talking in front of the class. I would sit with the class and participate in the lessons like any other student.  I gave them 3 days to plan in class and then we were off (well, sort of - June is full of PD days, meetings, days when the kids are not in school and a 3 day trip I planned).

As you may have guessed from the title, things were not as perfect as I had planned.  Far from it.  I don't think I would call it a complete failure but it has been a hot mess.

Here are the big problems I've encountered: (1) Sometimes the students that are teaching don't know enough about the topic to explain things clearly or explicitly enough so that other students understand the topic (2) the content they are presenting to the class is too hard or too easy (3) the activities are more fun than rigorous (so many useless word searches) (4) the students that are not teaching are not super respectful or attentive. I keeping trying to tell myself that they are learning a lesson in how crappy it feels when you talk when the teacher is talking or how hard it is to do well at something when you are not fully prepared.  And maybe for a few of them, this is happening.  But, for the vast majority of them....not so much.

So, what to do? I definitely want to do this project again or at least have them teach as a final product. Here's what I have come up with:

  • DON'T do this again at the end of the year.  At the end of June I can barely hold their attention.  A group of their peers is going to have an even harder time.
  • I have to review their lessons more carefully before they teach.  Word searches cannot be a thing.
  • The students have to held more accountable for what they are learning.
  • Don't do this at the end of June.  I know I said that one before but it's a big one.
  • Have them teach about something they are more familiar with. Maybe doing this with a completely new unit wasn't the best idea.
I love having the students stand in my shoes for a few days but the next time I do it, it's definitely going to have to happen with better planning....and not in June.


Popular posts from this blog

A Teacher or an Educator?

I hope that I am an educator and not a teacher.
Let me go back a few steps.This past week I watched a very good friend of mine give her first TEDx talk on her experiences throwing out grades (and she rocked it!). This event also featured several student speakers.All the students were fantastic – well spoken, poised and passionate in their delivery. They had a lot of great things to say but two of those things stood out for me.One student talked about the experiences of students working hard to create projects that only the teacher sees.This has sparked in me a tiny revolution but I am going to go into that further in another post.This post focuses on the talk of a young man named Timmy, a senior in high school, who counted off the number of teachers he’d had over the years that he considered educators and not just teachers. As he went on to elaborate about what made a teacher an educator, I just kept thinking, “I wonder if he would call me an educator and not a teacher”.
What makes s…

Creating Opportunities

No matter how hard I work, I am never going to get a promotion. I will never get a bonus. If I want a promotion I have to go back to school (even though I am already 30 credits beyond my master's) and take a job that is no longer in a classroom. Working directly with students is why I got into teaching and I'm not ready to leave that behind. So, according to the definition, I am in a dead end job. I can work my butt off, create fantabulous lessons, give all I have to my students and next year be in the same position making essentially the same money.

Every four or five years I have a teaching crisis of faith. I question what I am doing and why. I think about the other things I could be doing with my life (though as I get older some of those other options are becoming much less likely - I don't think NASA wants to send me to space or that my career as a rock star is going to take off). This most recent crisis was the "I will never get promoted" crisis. Right now, …

Musings about Rubrics

If you are reading this you probably know what a rubric is. If you don't, here's the quick and dirty. A rubric is a grading guide that is available to students. It tells them how their work is going to be evaluated and allows them to evaluate themselves. Rubrics can take many forms. Here is one I recently used with my students:

In our school, as of this year, we grade on mastery grading system. There are 4 "grades" a student can get: Mastery with Excellence = you understand it so well you can teach it to others Mastery = you get it exactly as well as you should Approaching Mastery = you are almost at mastery but not quite there Not Yet Mastered = New to a skill or no where near mastering it
Now, I don't know if this is the case with all mastery schools, but in our school we are all about the rubric. Not only are there project rubrics (which I have always had a hate hate relationship with) but we also have unit rubrics.  There are rubrics for standards and rubrics for…