Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Still Pending, However

Still pending. I wish it would hurry up; it's been a month since the state received all my information.

Despite this, I'm having a good time doing things for Lakeville already! This Monday through today, I had a conference on Professional Learning Communities. I thought it was fairly interesting, and there are a few things that I have reconsidered while I start revving up for this school year. Accommodations for learning and persistence, despite energy levels being depleted are at the top.

Here is my new (well, kind of new, but maybe "definitive" is a better way to put it, though I still have over half a month to change my mind!) plan for assignments--

Late work will be due by 3:00 that day. I'm not going to mess around with keeping track of if they put it in the box at the beginning of the hour or the end. I think their school day is over at two, but mine is over at three. This is something I might change, but for now, we're going to go with this. Anything turned in after the day that it is due (by three o'clock), it is half off. Period.

However! Extensions will be given, provided they fill out a contract. Too many times did my students come up to me and say, "Um, I need an extension," and I would write their name down and then lose it. This time, they will have to turn in the contract--which will include their new due date, their reason for the extension, my signature, and their signature. I'm serious, bucko. After three o'clock on the extension deadline (which we both will set), it's half off.

No late work accepted after the end of the unit, with the exception of tests, major projects, and papers as well as any other large assignment both worth lots o' points and conceptually very important. I wouldn't assign it if I didn't want them to do the work, but I also don't want a giant stack of late work that I will grade two days before the end of the semester.

The last week of the semester, I will not be accepting late work, unless they have arranged an extension. I saw Amy's pile on the last day of the winter trimester. I want to have a week to work on my pile.

Oh, and they'll also have two coupons... per semester, probably... for late work. Full credit, no questions asked. They still can't turn it in that last week, and they have the choice to use it for a piddly assignment or a big one. I'm not sure if I'll let them use it on their research paper or not--seems like they would get an extension, if they needed one. I'll have to think that one over.

One of the things about late work during the conference that has made me reconsider my policies (which had been ten percent per day until fifty percent, then nothing after the end of a unit, but I had planned on being a bit more strict in my first year) was that we were told to consider general things that made up our grading:

- How well a student achieves a standard
- How well a student measures up to others in a class
- Effort
- Improvement
- Behavior
- Promptness
- Etc.

There were a few others, and we were asked to vote on two--to stand up and represent the two we thought were most important. I thought how well the student achieves a standard would be the most important, with effort and improvement being considered, though not nearly as much as the first. No one stood up for promptness.

He then went over how one student got a zero on an assignment for turning it in late (we apparently didn't accept late work in this scenario) and a few other B-type grades. However, the student ended up getting a D- or failing or something like that for the final grade (and he discussed how grading is statistically skewed anyway given the whole F can be anywhere from a 0 to a 60 and all the other grades fall in above). And yet no one stood up for promptness being a consideration in grading. After all, promptness is just teaching them responsibility.

I don't think I would completely let go and accept all late work until the bitter end. That's asking for a lot of extra, tiresome work. Sure, if I could teach one less class and not have to take on so many extra curriculuars, I'd be happy to revise that statement. Given that I'm a first year teacher and that I am taking on the drama and the literary magazine of the school, I'm pretty swamped. Maybe once I have taught some of my classes a couple of years in a row will I have the time. Organization, I'm pretty decent at. Time, not so much.

I also reconsidered a few other policies and have decided to add in--if a student gets an A on the final test of the unit, I will drop their lowest quiz or other assignment score. That student also has to have *all* of his or her work in though. I figure if a student has buckled down and learned the stuff by the end of the unit, that's what I'm grading on--whether or not they know what I want them to get out of what I'm teaching and can think critically about the material. I don't want to punish them for being a little slower or confused earlier. But that student has to turn in all of his or her work for the unit and get an A. Or maybe a B. Depends on the situation. I'll mull that over.

There was a math teacher he described that didn't require homework for the students who were pulling an A or a B in the class. Sounds nice to me. :) I don't think that would work quite so well with English, however, as many assignments aren't practice as much as build up.

Also this week--the activities fair! We had it last night and will have another one for juniors tomorrow night. We had a lot of interest for drama, which is good. Denny Swanson, who will direct, and Michelle, who will choreograph, were both there, so I got to talk to both of them, and I'm feeling a lot better about how the play and musical will go. I was feeling a bit out of the loop, but I think once the school year gets started, things will be fine. I'm still not 100% certain what my official role is, other than advisor to the drama club, but I think I am assistant directing. Denny said that I wouldn't have to be there every night of rehearsal too, which was a great relief, and he knows that I would prefer to be there in the afternoons rather than the evenings, given my relocation to RW (FRIDAY!!!!).

It was really great to be in the school yesterday... things are starting to fall into place, and people are moving in. I was all tingly as I walked around the halls and through the gyms. I didn't go look at my classroom (but I know my room number--A308), but I will tomorrow night. I should bring my digital camera so I can put some pictures up here. (I also need to take a picture of our house with the "Sold" sign on it... It was a shock when I couldn't find it in MLS until I realized that they were done showing it and we were actually on our way... now we only have two more nights in Winona and we are going to be homeowners as of somewhere around one o'clock on Friday!)

Well, folks, that's all for now. I could go on and on about all sorts of thoughts I have going in my head, but I have a to-do list that is a bit frightening, and I don't want to bore those who read this too much! Hope all is well with everyone, and I can't wait until I really start getting into this school thing... more workshops not next week, but the week after (though next week, I am meeting with Sue Carpenter again, the woman who teaches Communications-11 at Lakeville North).

Oh, and I almost forgot the other great news--friends Lora and Ryan were hired at Lakeville North! So now there are four of us at North and me at South, so five in the district! I wish we were all at the same school, but I have met a lot of the new people at South, and they seem great too... The five of us (well, if Lora and Ryan agree) plan to get together and chat about school and other things on a fairly regular basis. Elisa, who just got married last weeked, and Kathy were previously hired at North a week or so before I got my job at South.

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