Friday, February 17, 2012

Crunch Time vs. Quality Time

I know this is a bit late but I wanted to come back to this post I started (and obviously became too busy to finish) at the end of January. The points remain valid to teachers so I thought I would share a food for thought that was floating around in my busy brain this year...


Teachers need to talk about this...
It is nearing the end of semester one and I am about 2 more weeks away from exams, and a switch to a new semester. During this time of year (every year it seems), I find myself wondering if I should be crunching all that undone material to my students or choosing a few key pieces and focusing on them more thoroughly. Seems to me that even veteran teachers come across this problem, and it doesn't just lie with new-10yr teachers. I think I find that a bit more comforting in that maybe I'm not doing such a terrible job and that possibly in reflecting like I am here on this post, that I am actually doing the right thing. It is the dialogue that needs to happen, talking about these sorts of concerns and then finding a bit of a common practice.

What do I do? What have I done in the past?
Hmmm.....Well for starters, I think this year finds me in a further behind spot than I have been in the past 5 years at this time in these courses. Possibly due to a number of factors that include new curriculum, student engagement issues (i.e. lots of boys in an ELA class who dislike ELA), spending more time on certain things than I did last year, and also I can not forget that some of this lies with me (the teacher). I am not naive enough to say that it isn't at all my fault that we are in this pickle, but that is not to say that I can control my whole learning environment and make students read, comprehend, or work faster because I want them to either. I can't even count on two hands, the number of classes that were taken away from me for things other than curriculum or education (in the traditional sense). We have missed lots and although this is a concern in and of itself, it leads me to the next question....

Crunch vs. Quality? End of Semester Concerns
Choose some of those really key pieces that need to be taught and focus your attention and time there with quality, or push through the rest of the curriculum pieces and hope for it to hit as many kids as possible....hmmm...concerns that are really trumping great education. The push from many different places makes delivering quality education difficult or at least more challenging than it ever used to be, creates unique learning environments when the end of semester is looming in the near future. I am not sure what anyone's real 'rule of thumb' is on this question, and it probably has a lot of factors that make this a not-straight-forward situation or example. How many kids, what age, which subject, what grade level, the kids themselves (attitude), your attitude, your experience, your administration, etc. can all affect how the students will respond to either you pushing forth crunch time or savouring the quality on a few pieces. Either way, whatever you choose in your situation, I vote that the teacher always makes the best possibly decision for their students, their class and for their own comfort level. Go for it, and don't let what other teachers decide affect your classroom and your own unique students because only the teacher knows best in this situation.