We have three small staff lounges on our high school campus. I frequent the lounge behind the main office before school and the one closest to my classroom at lunchtime. I enjoy the adult contact and encounter different teachers at the two different lounges and times. Some are teachers I'd never see otherwise and I value that interaction.
Background for this story: our school district is taking the entire next week off for President's Week. We probably start earlier than you do in August and probably get out later than you do in June, but we're taking next week off no matter what.
Anyway, I was discussing at lunch today the fact that I'd polled one of my classes, and they thought it would be better for me to give them their chapter test this Friday (while the information is still fresh in their minds) rather than on the Tuesday we get back, after they've had a over a week to forget some of it. The vote was almost unanimous, so yesterday I agreed to reschedule their test to this coming Friday.
Later it occurred to me that many, if not most, teachers will probably have some kind of quiz or test scheduled for Friday. The kids will be swamped. What could I do? I'd already agreed to the proposal, and it wouldn't seem right to get their input, act on it, and then go back on it--all within a day! So today I proposed, and they gleefully accepted, an offer to make the test a take-home test over the week off.
Perhaps I'm appearing extremely wishy-washy, changing my plans each day. I'm not usually like this, but since the students don't seem to mind and I'm gaining two extra instructional days, I'll forgive myself this once.
While discussing it today, the thought occurred to me that I could give a short quiz on Friday (the "quick quiz" that I had originally planned to give Friday anyway) and could give the test as a take-home test over the week off. And if they don't bring it back on Monday, major points taken off.
One teacher thought that would be a bad idea. She pointed out that several will forget it; even at 16 they're kids, and consequences or not, plenty will still forget about it after a week. And I really don't want to take off major points, but how else could I get them to bring it back that day? She suggested that I make it due Tuesday; everyone could get a subtle reminder on Monday, and then there's no excuse for Tuesday.
Not bad, and I'd still get those two instructional days. I'm a week behind the other Algebra II courses, and if I can reclaim those two days with little impact on achievement, then we're all better off.
Then we came up with bonus points for bringing it back Monday, major points off if not returned by Tuesday. Not a bad suggestion, and again, I wouldn't have to feel guilty for slamming people who don't bring it back on Tuesday. But there's already a bonus problem on the test; why give more extra points for bringing it back on the due date?
More discussion. Consensus view: take off 5% if it's not brought back Monday, 20% if not brought back Tuesday, and 100% after that. Going once, going twice, sold.
Key points here:
1. Why did I even worry about the fact that other teachers will be giving tests/quizzes Friday? Perhaps I'm getting soft in my old age. A moment of weakness.
2. I like this solution. Would I have come up with it on my own? Probably not.
3. Please, don't comment that this is just how cooperative learning is supposed to work. No it's not! I conferred with others who have different experience in this field than I've had. In cooperative learning, they've all had about the same level of education (at least in upper math) and wouldn't be relying on their experience to tell me the equation of the hyperbola that's centered at ....
4. No one was being negative about students. In fact, that's a nice bonus of eating in the lounge that I do--it's almost always a very positive place. None of that stereotypical complaining/gossiping/badmouthing going on that we were warned about back in the credentialing classes.
5. One of our newer teachers joined us today, for probably the first time. Usually she eats lunch in her room. We're entitled by contract to a duty-free lunch, and today she learned the value of taking it. She was so "uplifted" when the end-of-lunch bell rang, I'm sure she'll be back tomorrow.
The end. I didn't say it was a barn-burner! But it was a nice lunch.
Oh, and we're having a potluck in that lounge on Friday.