50% of teachers quit within the first five years. Why is that? What can we do to stop the high cost of teacher turnover? This great infographic by visual.ly highlights the issue.
I have just arrived in the great city of Atlanta to attend the iPad Summit, hosted by Ed Tech Teacher, at Georgia Tech. In conjunction with the great editing skills of Beth Holland, I will be live blogging the summit again this Spring. Please check back here April 11 – April 12 for updates on various keynote talks and sessions. I wish I could attend them all!
I will also be presenting Friday morning at 9:15 on the iPad for Personal Professional Development.
So on tonights list: nap, work, gym, work, sleep… if I can. It’s kind of like the night before Christmas!
The other day a thread appeared on the National Association of Independent Schools online communities speculating on aspects of the great freedom that independent school teachers have to create curriculum and assessments suited to their strengths and to the particular needs and interests of their students and their schools. This got me to thinking.
This freedom has long been a classic double-edged sword. The virtues of “teacher autonomy” in independent schools were extolled to me even before I entered the field back in the Nixon era. As another veteran of that era commented in response to an earlier post here, the idea long prevailed in many schools (and perhaps still does in some) that a teacher would be taken to the door to the classroom, handed a textbook (a.k.a. the “curriculum”), and assured that paychecks would clear until June, short of some act that would rate firing for cause. What happened in the classroom would, by some sort of gentleman’s agreement, stay in the classroom, and the teacher would seldom be inconvenienced…
Tomorrow is the last day of instruction and I decided (a week ago) to give my students a quiz. I wanted one more opportunity for those with low quiz grades to bring them up and to keep them on track as the semester closes (an achievable goal right at the end). Today, I had an idea and presented it to my students:
“Today,” I said, “I’m offering you the opportunity to write your own quiz. I have already prepared one. However, if you make one as good, or better, than mine we will use yours.” I also explained the rules to the kids:
- There must be at least 20 questions; they may be multiple choice, true/false, or short answer.
- There are no freebies (after all, they’re all freebies as they made them). If they gave a multiple choice question, the options had to be feasible, e.g. a question about Julius Caesar couldn’t include “possible answers” like “Joe Jonas” or “Tom Cruise”
- Every student must submit one viable question.
- One student had to write it and disseminate it to the class (and me)
- Two students served as ‘moderators’ – they recorded answer, decided if they were appropriate, and ensured that everyone spoke in turn.
I will say that I was immensely surprised by the results. In all but one of my classes, the activity went off without a hitch. The students were excited to participate, looked up their old notes, they wrote some really specific questions and even included dates (the cryptonite of all history students). I did make a few changes – largely spelling, switching around the multiple choice, or cleaning up the verbiage. However, over all they produced good work – their quizzes were far harder than any of mine! Even more impressive, they worked together as a group to achieve their end results. I felt like the students actually learned the topics, studied them, and then worked hard to make a ‘hard quiz.’ And they achieved this goal together.