1. Plans always are plans, not reflections.
2. Even when you’ve checked your resources before an event, it doesn’t mean the resources will be there at event time.
3. When emotions are not in harmony, it is difficult to focus on details.
4. Collaboration is powerful.
5. It is important to build an environment of dialogue.
Not a bad day of learning, if I do say so myself. How, you might ask, did I learn all this…through the beautiful profession of Education.
Today, some MYP Language A English students were presenting their informative and persuasive speeches intended to prompt action to help diffuse discrimination in our world today (2011). I was responsible for judging them against specific criteria. As this is a difficult thing for me to do in real-time, I have learned to record presentations on some sort of video device; to then re-watch with the power of the pause and reverse buttons, in order to determine final achievement levels for students (context to help me to continue to learn about #1; however, if things would have went as planned, I wouldn’t have had this learning experience today :-)).
This morning, before home-room, I went to pick up the camera and ensure I knew how to operate it. I asked a few questions, shot a short video, found out how to view the video I just took, turned the camera off, and powered it back up again–ready to shoot a new video. All good. (context for #2 above).
Speech #1: half way through the speech…”error file” message. I quickly panic (#3 above), but regain my wits, tap record, and all is fine. I think to myself, during the speech, no big deal, two files for one speech…short gap, maybe 3 seconds…good thing I have a video, because I don’t know what this student has been saying.
Speech #2: two seconds into the speech and the video screen freezes with funky-colored-horizontal lines running through it. No button works…force power-down. Won’t restart. I stare at the student intently–I problem solve in my head, but hear little of the speech. I think to myself, we must continue giving speeches today or we might not have class time to get them in…students are prepared to give the today…not fair to them to postpone because of technical glitches outside their control…I’m not alone here. (#4 above).
Fortunately, I currently have a student observer (teacher in training) in that class . She was practicing judging students with specific criteria and was taking notes in real-time during the speeches. I quickly asked her to go make extra copies of the criteria sheets for me to make judgements in real-time as well. She was back with the copies before speech #3 had ended. I’m glad I was very familiar with the criteria, and I was fairly confident in the accuracy of my judgements. But since I didn’t have the video to confirm my real-time judgements, I was re-taught the power of collaboration (#4) and the power of open dialogue (#5).
I was already thinking about other parts of the day, upon the end of class time. The student observer questioned me about the class as it ended and we were headed for lunch. At first I couldn’t focus because of various emotions stirred from the class. I then was able to refocus and we compared notes regarding the speeches. We discussed high, medium, and low achievement levels and supported our judgements with evidence. We discussed surprises from students. We standardized the assessment, in real-time, immediately after the event, and I’m even more confident in the accuracy because of that conversation (#4 and #5).
As a result of “all of this”, I plan to learn more about social-emotional learning in order to become a better teacher next academic year. But I also know “plans always are plans, not reflections” (#1). Stay tuned.
What have you been learning today? I’d love to hear from you.