July 6, 2021

David Lee Finkle: Lessons From a Year of Pandemic Teaching

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David Lee Finkle is the man behind Mr. Fitz, the internet’s best teacher-related cartoon series. But he also blogs, and he recently addressed the question of what lessons can be learned from the past year.

So – what are my takeaways from this very strange year? Probably nothing I didn’t know before. But the things I know, I know better now.

Less focus on standardized assessment: Our obsession with standardized testing has got to stop. Or have a mentioned that before? My students lost over 20 days of instruction to standardized assessment, district, state, and College Board combined – and that was just in my English class. There were other days lost in other subjects as well. Most of the time, the assessments are either low quality or else give students no real useful feedback about how they could improve. Worse, all that assessment got in the way of things that do matter (see below).

Our mandated curriculum is completely arbitrary: In spring of 2020, when we all stayed home for the 4th quarter and taught and learned online, my district tossed the curriculum map in favor of an online learning platform called Edgenuity full of videos and automatically graded assignments. So I guess the curriculum map wasn’t as important as I thought. Of course, since I’d been replaced by a video teacher, I guess I wasn’t that important – at least not to the system.

My decisions as a teacher matter: No matter how much they try to teacher-proof and micromanage the classroom (or just replace us with videos), our choices and expertise as teachers matter. Two of my classes, my “regular” classes, went to Edgenuity before I knew there was an option to do your own thing. My 3 “advanced” classes did an online version of what I would have done in class – a combination of curriculum map stuff and my own materials and assignments. My Edgenuity students didn’t show up for calls and became completely disengaged. The students doing my materials had much better attendance on calls, were involved in online discussions, and stayed with me to the end. This was not, I believe, merely a function of their being advanced students. I think they, too, would have checked out on robo-teacher.

There’s more, and it’s well worth the read, Read the rest of the post here..

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