Bond with James: A Week in the Life of a Teacher (Week 10): Evaluations, Frustrations, and Stations! Oh, my!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Week in the Life of a Teacher (Week 10): Evaluations, Frustrations, and Stations! Oh, my!

This week was perhaps one of the more stressful weeks I've had since the school year began.  You can watch the video to hear more about it or you can skip my frustrating moments and read about what my students did this week (below the video). 

Monday (10-23-17)
Happy Mole Day! Unfortunately, I did not plan anything for Mole Day. I know, I know. I'm a horrible chemistry teacher.  With that said, my A-Day classes repeated what my B-Day classes completed on Friday - which was the Periodic Table modules on the class Canvas site.  I shot a video and edited it into seven smaller videos during my conference period last Thursday.  Then I uploaded each clip onto Canvas and created questions that went along with each video as a way to gauge student understanding as they watched and took notes.  

Unfortunately, the Teaching Gods were not on my side. Similar to the issue I had last Wednesday, none of the videos would play. I immediately decided to skip troubleshooting and teach the whole class.  I had to do this for the first two periods of the day.  During my off period, I remembered that I still had access to Google Classroom and decided to upload the videos there to see if that would fix the problem.  

Long-story short, I was able to get the videos uploaded to Google Classroom, but not without a cost.  I had planned to shoot videos for future lessons but ran short on time because I had allocated a significant amount of time to troubleshooting the video issue. Oh, well!  At least now I know I have a backup in case the Canvas video player does not work.  

Tuesday (10-24-17) and Wednesday (10-25-17)
On Tuesday and Wednesday, my students completed two of my Student Learning Stations activities: Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table.   Students had participated in 3 other stations activities in the past. However, I incorporated two different topics into one lesson.  
I did this as a way to review material covered last week, to allow students to get up and move around, to interact with more hands-on activities, and let students choose the way in which they demonstrated their understanding of the material during the writing sections.  There were also a few concepts that I had not taught and I used the stations as a method to cover them. 
Furthermore, my formal evaluation was on Wednesday and I had wanted to implement a stations activity set during an observation. Teachers receive two formal evaluations, by two different administrators, during the school year - one in the fall and the other in the spring. Both observations are approximately 30-minutes in length. I waived my pre-conference and sent my administrator a copy of my lesson plan outlining what my students would be doing at each station. 
I was able to get a feel of how the lesson would work with my Tuesday classes and made improvements after school that day.  I took out two stations and also taped down all of the cards and station signage.  This was to prevent students from mixing up the duplicate card sets at each table (which had been an issue during the other learning station activities); and it worked!

I didn't tell my students that I was going to be observed.  From the clips in the vlog, you can see that students were working individually or in small groups; as well as picking the order of the stations they wanted to complete. Students were engaged in higher-level academic conversations or tasks based on the specific activity they were completing.  Overall, I felt that the evaluation went well.  Now it's only a matter of time before I find out how I did during the evaluation. 

Thursday (10-26-17) and Friday (10-27-17)
Thursday and Friday were days dedicated to completing the station sets. A majority of my students did complete the stations, however, I am on the fence about combining two topics in the future.  Actually, as I wrote the last sentence, I realized that I was really undecided about allowing some of the students to pick and choose during the station activities. These particular students did not utilize their time wisely and often start off the station activities together until I have to separate them.  After four attempts at allowing them the choice to move around (based on previous station activities), I think I am going to direct their station flow in the future. 

If you're interested in hearing about my frustrating week or seeing more clips of students in action, you can check out the vlog at the top of the page.  You can watch me talk about my missing COW key (computer cart), having to fill out student forms, waking up late, technology failures, and more!

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