Tuesday, June 17, 2008

SSA and Alan November

Last week, Shawn and I presented at the Alabama Superintendent's Conference in Orange Beach, Alabama. It was great being able to have my voice heard by Superintendents. Some were quite taken with the content of our presentations and often came up to ask questions and for our contact information. At lunch on Wednesday, Alan November spoke to the group. He is a great speaker who has a dry sense of humor where he is able to say hard things but not in a way that it feels like he is preaching to you but instilling a sense of urgency in those in attendance. His main theme was that schools are setting students up for failure. Are we focused on knowledge learned or the process? He referred to teacher's roles as coach and referee. The teacher coaches with project based lessons that have real life experiences which uses every tool available to deepen understanding. He suggests that the teacher should not grade every single paper during the coaching stages but randomly select 5 papers from each period or class to grade and analyze using test item analysis. From there, the teacher can see if the majority of the class understood or if an objective needs to be retaught in a different manner. During the referee stage, the teacher grades every single paper. I am always hearing there is not enough time to teach, grade papers, learn new things, and then try those new things in the classroom. Teachers and students become so focus on the grade of every paper instead of the learning. How many students do you know of that knew the content but received a poor grade for the class because they did not turn in the homework. He also STRONGLY suggested that teachers take a hard look at the type and amount of homework that is assigned. Is it truly beneficial to the students or just more papers to grade? When should learning take place - in the classroom with guidance or at home alone?

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