Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Alternative Assessments


I have been a math teacher for most of my career, which means that the majority of my assessments have been tests and quizzes. As I have had to teach a few other subjects (which are out of my comfort zone) I have started using some assessments (which are also out of my comfort zone). Some of these assessments are obvious, like when I teach technology, I don't give tests, I give projects. But when I started teaching middle school Bible classes and a history class or two, I started branching out. I started doing things like papers and summaries. Then I went crazy and assigned a speech, and then once (for Bible) I did my first skit.

I was doing all sorts of cool "professional" teachery stuff like making rubrics! (Which I still feel like I am mispronouncing.... Is it even a real word?!? I don't know.)

A couple of days ago I got to thinking about this whole thing. I mean, sure, they are different, they can be fun for everyone, but I am selling them short? Does preparing for a speech or writing a paper bring about the same level of challenge as a ... should I say... cold hard test?

Life still gives you tests. My question is, "should the teacher?"

I know that this blog is called the "Confident Teacher" but I am not feeling too confident about this. So, to help me out with this little question, I (very quickly) created a little survey to get some input from the people that would actually know the answer to this question. So please, please fill out this little form. Pass it around to your teacher friends.

(Send them this link:

Any questions I should add?

If I get a good number of responses, I will post a link to the results in a few days.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Do your job well

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A chasing after the wind

I recently attended a teacher conference (you can read my notes here and here.) There was lots of good information shared, and many warm and fuzzy moments. Teaching is a unique, complex, and fundamentally important job. It can also be fun, enjoyable, and rewarding to know that we make a difference on the planet.

As I was driving home it struck me that for two days we spoke all about what WE could and would do to work together to improve education, but we hardly spoke of God. Now, this was a secular conference, so I didn't expect to start or end the day with group prayer, or hear Jesus mentioned very often. (In fact, I was shocked a few times by the baser quality of some of the video and language used to "entertain" some of the speakers points, but we all laughed.) I realized as I was driving that here again we as a group of created people are attempting to design our destinies in education without consulting the original designer.

What did Solomon say in Ecclesiates 1?

I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

What is twisted cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted.

I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge." Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.

As confident teachers we need to seek God's hand in our teaching and pray for our students, our colleagues, our campuses, our leadership, and ourselves. Without Christ, regardless of our best efforts, we are chasing after the wind.