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by Chris Burke
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853: Showing Up
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Mr. Michael Keegan, Math Teacher

It's not about showing up. It's about what you do when you show up.

Warning: Mini-Rant: There is a odd philosophy that states that many students are failing the class because they don't show up. And logic dictates that if one shows up to class, one should do better than one who does not. And since the absentees are failing, then better than failing would be passing.

In the common parlance: "At least we're here! They don't even come!"

Which is why the space-takers get a 50 or 55 instead of a 45. However, this is anathema to their thinking. (Ubless I'm misusing the word "anathema", in which case, I'm still putting in more effort than the space-takers.)

A Corollary to this is the complaint by those who "take notes and do all my work". This, of course, is self-reported and doesn't seem to use the same metric I use. (Actually, I would use a yardstick -- called me "old-fashioned".) Their measurements are quite scientific as I've only encountered microns and angstroms in science classes. In the vernacular, they just don't measure up.

However, even granting their self-reported scores, it comes back down to testing. They consistently want to stress all the factors that make up 30% of their grade as if that can be stretched out to 65%. Sadly, 70% of their grades come from their test scores. This is a number that I was given when I arrived, that was already programmed into the online grading system. I've checked with other teachers and have found that the students' claims that "No other teacher in the school uses 70%" has fallen 9 times of of 10, the lone exception being an Honors class, which has its own grading structure. This essentially means that each test they took was 35% of their grade. They claimed I sprung this on them just a couple of weeks ago, even though they've known since September what the percentage was. I know I've mentioned it before.

I'm not a fan of high-stakes testing, and I will always try to squeeze in a third test just so I have one to drop. It isn't always possible, especially with breaks and snow days. Not to mention poor attendance surrounding breaks and snow days. And not wanting to give a test on the Monday after a break. Frankly, I've bent over backward to accommodate, and I think that's my problem. I put my foot down on the next test, and they whined and complained, but the test after that (the first one of the new marking period) went much better.

Thankfully, I have a long stretch with no breaks so we can get through the curriculum and not have to jump through hoops for assessments. And, yes, I just found myself being thankful for NOT having days off.

The life of a teacher.


Please visit my blog: http://mrburkemath.blogspot.com.
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