Bogged Down

jeep-stuckThis past week or two I’ve felt really bogged down about the progress in my classes.  There are many things that I think I’m doing OK with, but it seems that for every idea or accomplishment in my practice I come across two questions or mysteries.  It sort of makes sense - the more that we learn, the more we realize how much we don’t actually know.  However, if life is like a game of snakes and ladders, it would be nice to feel like I’m spending more time on tall ladders as opposed to slippery snakes.

There are two overriding issues happening in my classes right now.  First of all, attendance and progress is extremely disjointed.  The classes have a constant stream of students missing because of extended holiday vacations, sicknesses, field trips and whatever other reason.  On top of that, I’ve had 3 new students in courses this week and 1 new student from 2 weeks ago.  The flow is definitely being disrupted.

The second issue is centered around assessment.  I feel that I have developed a wide-ranging arsenal of assessment tools but I’m not sure they are working as I expected.  As I’ve written about previously on this blog, my SBG plans were compromised this year by a classroom culture that is overly focused on marks.  On the positive side, I feel that through my formative assessment I have a pretty darn good idea of where each of my students is at with their learning.  The really frustrating thing about it is that I don’t know what to do with the students that are having trouble.

As I came to realize today in a workshop that I attended, I’m not convinced that my feedback helps my students.  The nature of SBG does a decent job of breaking their learning down to specific learning intentions, so that’s ok.  But when a student has a problem with a learning objective, I’m at a loss as to what to do next.  Unless I have time to give individual attention with Socratic questioning (which I think I’m pretty good at!), my feedback is in the form of correcting a mistake or explaining a solution, .  Does this help a student?  If not, what else can I do?   There are a handful of students in each of my classes whose learning has come to a standstill in the past couple of weeks, and I need to find a way to jump start them.  I guess it would help if they actually showed up to class and applied themselves, but I need to do a better job too.

Things aren’t all bad, my explorations in inquiry continue to progress nicely and I’m really pushing the kids in this sense.  I’ll have to write more about this later, as I think I’ve made a ton of progress in this area.  More than ever before, I have my students trying to act like scientists.  So I got that going for me, which is nice.