Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Post-Expo Science Teacher Rehab

My goals: unearth my desk, get the kids back to our usual classroom routines, catch up on grading, organize our school's field trip to the Regional Science Expo, do something about the massive green blob (aka algal bloom) that is taking over the fish tank, figure out what my role is going to be in the long-term planning process that my school is beginning.

Let the recovery process begin.

*****

On a related note, I gave out surveys at Monday's PD session, and got a lot of helpful feedback from the other staff members. They seemed pleased by the Expo, though they wished there had been less last-minute work. I'm sympathetic and it's a challenge we're perennially working on.

Even more helpful, in some ways, was the feedback from the kids. I asked them to answer five reflection questions. The idea was to encourage them to reflect on their own work, and to investigate the students' experience of the Science Expo. I asked what they thought they did particularly well this year, what they would do differently or what they learned about doing projects, what their teachers/school did that was helpful, what their teachers/school could have done differently or better, and what their overall reactions to the Expo and the process of preparing for it were.

The most intriguing piece of information that came up over and over again - I'd estimate at least 10 times out of 60 kids - was that they appreciated the fact that I made them do most of the work on their own, outside of school. A couple of kids said that they thought they did better work as a result. Others thought it was hard but worth it since they will be expected to be more independent next year in high school. And others thought that they learned something about scheduling their time as a result of the experience. Considering my angst about balancing checkpoints and structure with independence and personal responsibility, I am really happy to have this reminder that kids WANT to be pushed to grow and take on more reponsibilities.

That said, they all wished I'd given them more time - either more advance notice or a bit more in-class time for research and typing.

Overall, they seemed to like the Science Expo and most thought it was better this year than in the past. Several had really insightful comments (I'd quote from them but I left them at school) about how our school is changing and improving and learning from our past experiences.

And then there was one boy who wrote, "I hated the whole thing." Although I'd love for them all to enjoy the Science Expo, I'm fine with the fact that it's not for everyone. I don't want anyone to HATE it, though! I'm glad he trusts me enough to be so (brutally) honest....

I am really proud of the kids for their thoughtful responses.

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