Chibi Teferi Says It’s Time To Go.

Chibi Teferi is telling us that Spring Break is nearly over…

It’s Saturday, and on Monday I go back to work. It has been a good week off, so much so that Chibi Teferi needs that stern look and a point at his watch to get me back on the proverbial track, as it were.

I’m actually thinking out some of the things that need to be planned out before going back to school. You know, like a responsible teacher would? Obviously, there needs to be some kind of lesson plan, and in this case, that’s a first step that needs to be dealt with. We just concluded a unit as the last week came to an end, and did a final assessment on that brief unit.

Honestly, since that test was on the last day before break, I’m envisioning needing to provide an opportunity to retake that test. Plenty of students just kind of “phoned it in,” while others just weren’t there. With a fifteen week report card coming up this week, that grade is pretty important, and needs to be as high as possible.

See…Teferi is also indicating to us that time is running out for the school year. Chibi Teferi is a pretty smart guy, getting all of that out with a single gesture and stern expression.

With the fifteen week grades, there’s a bit of a challenge. This year, the entire district is seeing a statistically significant decline in student grades, which is alarming. At the current moment, only 49% of seniors, district wide, are making their “A-G Requirements,” which make a student eligible for California public colleges and universities. That’s bad.

The number of students prepared for graduation, with a diploma, is also pretty low. I mean that district wide, not just at my school. That indicates a kind of fundamental motivation problem that’s kind of hard to get around, since you can get a diploma with straight D grades down the line.

The whole thing becomes tricky for teachers. On the one hand, in “standards based education,” you need to ensure that students are capable of performing certain tasks at your grade level in order to pass them. For instance, in English 10, there are standards related to creating a thesis, and correctly using evidence to support that thesis, with a citation. If a student can’t DO that, they haven’t “met the standard.” It’s not a bad way of doing things, but isn’t curriculum based.

The problem comes out with this: if students are motivationally deficient, they might be able to “meet the standard,” but you can’t PROVE that as a teacher, because you don’t have the work to back that up. There are two solutions.

One is a “rolling late policy,” which I use. That policy states that until a given “drop dead” date, I’ll take my assignments with no penalty. My assignments are set up so that they are all relatively worth the same amount of points, withing a range, and there are multiple assignments per week. With that in mind, students aren’t punished for missing just one or two assignments, but missing a significant number gets out of hand pretty quickly. With the “rolling late policy,” I have to put an increasing amount of pressure on students to submit missing work, in order to get to the “pass line.”

The other one is to have an increasing value of assignments toward the end. High value final projects and exams that can radically change a percentage in a single day. If a student really DOES know their stuff, and meets the standards, but hasn’t put in effort, this can help to a large degree. However, a good student can ruin a very solid grade by having one bad day, which I’m not all that comfortable with.

All of this is coming at the same time as Standardized Test Season, so I will lose the computers in my classroom. All of them will be repossessed in order to administer the SBAC exam, a process which seems to take forever.

In light of all of this, my motivation levels are a bit on the low side as well. Usually, I’m much more excited about going back to school, but today, I’m feeling much more like I would like another week off.

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