SBG — or at least the way I’m implementing it — has some downsides. I see a ton of positives, but there are things to weigh against it. I am pretty sure my final verdict will come from my students, when I ask them about it.
1. I have already written 25 reassessments. (I don’t meet with kids to reassess — they take it in a “study hall” that students usually go to when they miss exams or schedule their extended time for exams.) I wish I could meet them individually and do what other teachers are doing — reassess kids by talking with them, sussing out what they know — but I can’t. I simply don’t have the time. But I lose that personal touch with the kid, that conversation after a good job or a poor job, about the process of learning. I mean, I have those when I meet with kids generally, but right now it’s just a lot of tests they’re seeing.
2. Students want to meet a lot more with me. This is good, but the downside is: I am getting way too burned out. It’s not feasible to carry on like this for the rest of the year. I hope that after the first quarter, students will be better equipped to get in front of the material, instead of lagging behind it.
3. My kids are seniors, and grades are important to them (hello, college admissions). At my school, kids almost always get As and Bs with an occasional C and even rarer D. But currently I have a few kids failing and a few kids with Ds. Right now the grades are lower than they historically have been. (They also mean something totally different. I get that. And I’ve had a number of kids who have been absent a lot.) The result, however, is that I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I suspect I will get flak from somewhere. I hope that the trend I’ve been seeing recently continues — and the grades continue to go up as kids realize the need to (a) stay on top of the new material and (b) remediate the old material they didn’t realize they would have to stay on top of.
4. Everything is going way slower – because I’m spending more time in class assessing. I do it about once a week, for 35 or 40 minutes. But right now I am about a week behind where I was last year. I am teaching limits now and I’m getting bored with some of the dry stuff I’m emphasizing (e.g. limit laws, etc.). So are the kids. I am going to try to cut some stuff out so we can get to the good stuff — and make up for lost time. But still. I’m going slower.
5. I haven’t changed any of my curriculum so far. I’m using the same SmartBoards (well, modified, but generally the same) from last year. So the course should feel the same. But I feel like everything is getting choppier. Kids are more focused on the skills, and it’s hard to get them to see the big picture. They latch onto the skills. It’s their security. I fear they don’t care about learning anything else. I think they have trouble zooming out and seeing the connections — and I need to be super conscientious about that. But to them, the skills are the of all and end all. Something is off, and I can’t quite articulate it well yet. This was my attempt.