And now one more

Oh, man, I made so many of them cry today. It was awesome.

I said more or less the same thing to all of my classes today, and I said it today because I expect a fair number of them to be absent tomorrow: that this was the first year that teaching was fun in a very long time, and that the last class of kids that I remember with the level of fondness that I suspect I’ll remember this class with was ten goddamn years ago. This is the end of year 19; seven months ago I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to 20. Now I’m back to thinking I might actually retire from teaching whenever that magical date rolls around, as opposed to quitting in disgust and going to do something else.

Tomorrow afternoon is a field day, and the universe has rewarded me for these heartfelt thoughts by putting me in charge of monitoring the inflatables, which means I am going to spend four hours tomorrow stuck in a gym with several dozen seventh and eighth graders at a time, all of whom will be sweaty and, because I’m working with the inflatables, none of whom will be wearing shoes. I cannot imagine what my world is going to smell like tomorrow. I am not sure that I want to.

In which I get an award

I mentioned to my first hour that I had a band and choir concert to go to tonight at my son’s school, and a moment later joked that I kind of had to go because I am still married to the boy’s mother and we still all live in the same house and it would be rather difficult to pretend that I had something else that I needed to be doing other than going to the concert.

This provoked a literal chorus– multiple kids– telling me that their dads were still married to their moms and never showed up for any of their concerts anyway, and why was I such a good dad (calling it “doing the absolute minimum” probably didn’t help) and could I be their dad instead of the actual dads that they have now.

Uh. Oops?

At any rate, middle school band anchor concert, and it’s 9:00, and we just got home, and I’ve been there for (no exaggeration) hours, so I’m gonna cut this short and go to bed now.

On experimentation and grading

I did something this quarter that you normally can’t do in schools, and that’s using my students to perform an experiment. I have two honors Algebra classes, and I decided early in the 3rd quarter that I was going to grade most of their assignments simply on completion. In other words, I wasn’t going to go through any of them question by question and decide, okay, this one is a 9/10, or this is a 7/10, or whatever. Turned it in, and it looks like you tried? 10/10. Didn’t turn it in? 0/10. Same late work policy as the rest of my classes; ie, if it gets turned in it gets graded and I don’t care how “late” it is.

One would think, that if the only grades that were possible outside of tests were either zeroes or A+, that would really skew grades toward failing or high-A grades, and with a group of honors kids, generally more predisposed than others to turn in work, one would expect to see higher grades across the board.

One would be wrong. This policy barely moved grades at all. Most of the kids whose grades changed also turned in more work. There was no skew to the extremes, because kids inclined to failing assignments also don’t turn in a lot of work, and the amount of work kids turn in is really damn close to the scores they get on the assignments they turn in. Find me a kid who turns in every single assignment on time and I’ll show you a kid getting an A. Damn near every time.

Tests, of course, are a great leveler, and one other thing I have to pay attention to is whether test grades are plummeting, which might also be a side effect of this policy. Once kids figure out they don’t necessarily have to work super hard on classwork, because missing a question or two isn’t going to hurt their grades, maybe they don’t learn as well and that shows on the tests? All I can say is I didn’t see it, and I was paying pretty close attention. I might take one of my regular ed classes next quarter and see how well this policy works; I’m not going to try and apply it to everybody, though, at least not until I’m certain what kind of effect it’s having, and I don’t have remotely enough evidence for that right now.

(Reminder: all grading is arbitrary. Yes, all grading, even the system you have in mind right now.)

Third quarter ended today. Two weeks to Spring Break, about a month to ILEARN, and then that’s year 19 done and dusted. Amazing how fast the year has flown by since I changed schools. Just amazing.

In other news

I suppose technically I’ve posted today, since yesterday’s post just went up (oops) but seeing as how I need two episodes to finish uploading to YouTube before I can do anything serious involving my computer I may as well go ahead and write the post I was going to post.

If I can remember what the hell it was going to be about, that is.

I nearly Tweeted tonight. I removed Twitter, Mastodon, Instagram and TikTok from my phone a couple of weeks (?) ago in a fit of social media hatred, leaving only a single Discord server to represent social media on my phone. I reinstalled TikTok a couple of days ago because my wife has been out of town and I was bored but I’m already tired of it and about to take it off again. My wife is back in town again as of this morning, so we’re starting to return to normal around here, which is good. I haven’t necessarily missed interacting with people on Twitter, but occasionally a thought occurs to me that I want to throw out into the void and I lack a place for stray thoughts at the moment.

(Yes, I know that not every stray thought I have needs to be shared with the world. Sure. I know. Still.)

At any rate, I deleted the proto-Tweet unsent.

Friday featured one of my girls telling one of my boys, with a fair degree of certainty in her voice, that yes, she did have a scrotum, and that it was in her lower back, just like everyone else’s. I pulled her over to my desk and explained the difference between an scrotum and a sacrum to her, and a few minutes later had to ban further use of the word scrotum by any of my students, whether they possessed one or not.

Ah, middle school.

Today was better

I am more or less taking tonight off, but I thought I’d let everyone know that my student from yesterday was back in class today and all appears to be well.