In my life as a teacher there are a few tasks that I find mind numbingly boring. They are tasks that I can barely motivate myself to correct or complete on any kind of consistant basis. Some of these tasks are behind the scenes, things the students never see or encounter me doing in front of them, but some of them are obviously part of my planning for my classroom.
It has focused me to think about some of these tasks. Why do I find them so mind numbing? If I find them mind numbing, what do my students think of the ones they are being asked to complete? How can I make some changes so that we all have a better learning experience?
One of the tasks I hate to correct are assigned questions and worksheets. HATE!!! I just hate worksheets, I know they are great busy work and a way to get the students to do something while you are planning something else, but seriously they are so tedious to correct that I often find I am ignoring them and I never get to them. It's sad, but I know which of my students know the assignment, I know which of my students need some extra time on a topic, and I know these things through my conversations with them. Yet every once in awhile I still hand out worksheets to be completed for my to check, WHY do I do this to myself? The students expect that they will be marked on what they do, yet I don't always need a numerical number to know if my student understands the concept. I have been experimenting lately, trying new ways to have my students demonstrate a learning outcome. It's been much better and for the most part the students are further engaged in the activities to the point where they are taking the activities one step further. My challenge to myself for the next month and a half is going to be to teach paperlessly. This is a bit of a problem, since I can't always get the computer lab, but I think I can make it work or I can at least make it so that I do not teach with worksheets for the rest of the school year.
Another task I find that I dislike doing is writing anecdotal notes. I will do them from time to time, but I am no where near consistent on these habits. I think it's because I have not found an organized system in order to do these things with. So I have been looking for something that could possibly help me with that. I think I have found two solutions that will work simultaneously. The first step I have to take is to colour code all my classes. For example, Science 8 would be under red tabs in any marking or planning binders, it would be written in red on any calendar for special events, and an anecdotal notebook would be red, assignments would be kept in red folders, that way anytime I was looking for Science 8 activities I would just look for something red. I could do this with all my classes. Then with my anecdotal notes, I would designate a page per student and any time anything of interest occurred I would write it down under that student's name with the date. It would help me to see patterns developing, which would be awesome at the end of the year or even through the year as things happen.
I am working on finding a way to assess student learning without marking but sometimes I find it difficult and when students are so hung up on the idea of marking and marks it's hard to get them to find away around that number.
I am looking for ideas and suggestions because I do desire to become an excellent teacher, but sometimes it just takes awhile to find all the things that will create success in a classroom.