"It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching."
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene II.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chasing my tail: occupational hazard

It's been one of those weeks where I felt like I was running to catch up the entire time. I was only off sick for 2 and a half days last week (four and a half if you count the fact that I did no work in the weekend), but it has meant that so many things were slipping.

The highlight of the week was definitely the film making day I ran with a colleague for our international students who are not sitting external exams.  We gave them the challenge of creating a short video to go on the school website giving a student point of view about coming from overseas to study at our college. They divided into three groups: all managed to complete filming and download their footage to Macbooks kindly loaned by other staff (thank you!), but only one of the groups succeeding in editing their video and completing it in time for us to copy it to flashdrives or burn it to disks for them to take home.  The completed video is up on Youtube and you can see it by clicking on this YouTube link or click below:

Year 10 reports are nearing completion; my class is still working on a static image task that will be assessed against the NCEA Level 1 criteria. Their progress is glacially slow compared to the time it usually takes the Year 11s, but there is some good work coming.  It hasn't helped that those in the extension group have been on exam leave for part of the week. I was hoping this would mean that the others would be more focussed but sadly, not!

There have been a few seniors in every day, seeking revision advice and copies of past unfamiliar text papers, or completing assessments or re-submissions. I have chased a few whom I know are close to passing Level 1 Literacy and just needed some encouragement to come in and do it.  I even 'friended' a student on Facebook out of desperation for a method of contacting her when the phone numbers we had were not getting results (this broke my usual policy of not sending friend requests to students - I will confirm requests from students but don't initiate them as a rule). As an experiment it was successful: the student eventually responded to my direct Facebook message and came in to school several times, completing six credits.

Exam feedback from the Year 11s and 13s was largely positive: those who had done the preparation thought the papers fair and had found questions they could attempt with some confidence. It was disappointing again to find that many of the Y13s, in particular, only attempted some of the standards; some are very strategic about it, only having prepared for one or two, others fail to manage their time effectively and decide to do two standards thoroughly rather than three superficially.  I still find this hard to understand, having successfully faced a lot of university exams where I had to write four essays in the three hours.  I do think today's students have a lot less practice at exams than we did, and they actually are less habituated to writing by hand.  Many of them complain of sore hands after a three hour exam. I have a feeling not many take my advice to do timed practice essays.

Looking forward to this week: tomorrow is our Ministry-funded teacher only day for preparation for the realigned NCEA Level 2 standards.  We have a full day planned in the department: reviewing how the Year 11 implementation went this year, deciding if we want to make any changes for next year in the Level 1 programme, and then moving on into reviewing our plans for Level 2 next year and seeing if we want to revise the plan we came up with earlier this year. I hope to come out of the day with confirmed course outlines for all the senior programmes for 2012.  We also need to consider our external moderation report which came back this week.

I still have a pile of Year 10 marking that must be done urgently for their reports and haven't revised the stationery list for next year let alone finished proofing the magazine. AsTTle writing tests need to be photocopied and the testing and marking dates confirmed.  And a lot of this was on the to do list a week ago when I wrote...

Wait, I see a tail...

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