Friday, June 23, 2006

ON TEACHING: "Reviewing the School Year -- Failures and Successes"

Failure #4:
For some reason, I was not at all consistent in keeping anecdotal records this year. I started with the best intentions, including a system I had developed over the summer involving mailing labels that could be written on and then pasted in a notebook. For the first several months, it seemed to work fairly well. I simply jotted down notes about students in a random fashion, and then, at the end of the day, pasted them on the pages of each student. However, I lost my commitment to this plan around Christmas, and never really got back to it in a serious manner. The project slowly died away as the months passed.

Next year, I want to start again, and hopefully I can remain diligent throughout the year. It doesn't take much energy -- just a willingness to keep pencil and labels handy and write down abbreviated descriptions of student activity. For instance, if a student named Maryanne makes an excellent comment during a discussion about the irony of a friendship between two characters in A Tale of Two Cities, a note like this would be sufficient: "M-anne -- disc. - on irony in f-ship bet. Cart. and Darn." (That took 15 seconds to write.) Another possibility would be to list, ahead of time, four students each day whom I will focus my note-taking on. That might be a more realistic way of centering my attention, and it also might help me take notes on all the students on a regular basis.

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