Tracking today’s time

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MAP is over for now. I think I am going to count the minutes from my Student Learning Objective or “SLO” tests, though.

What is a Student Learning Objective (SLO)? SLOs are content-specific, learning objectives aligned to curricular standards. As part of the SLO process, today I was obliged to give all my classes tests which cover the material we are going to teach this quarter. Most of the material on these tests has not yet been taught. I reassured students repeatedly that today’s tests would not be part of their grades. I recommended they try to remember questions when possible, since the tests would be repeated as their final exams at the end of the quarter. I reiterated that I was not going to hold them responsible for not knowing vocabulary and concepts they had never seen before.

One major purpose of SLOs is to provide evidence of a teacher’s instructional success. If all teachers in a department give the same exam, teacher results can be compared at the end of the quarter. Comparisons are normally averages, the mean improvement of students in given classes. SLOs are losers for some subsets of teachers. Special education teachers, for example, have student groups who normally do not attain the same overall averages for improvement as their regular education counterparts. SLOs can also be losers for teachers who do not draw strong class groups from the regular population. Any teacher knows that some classes are academically stronger than other classes. Picking the right class or classes may be critical to the SLO process when not all classes are included in the data.

TIP to new teachers: Pick your strongest class! Don’t let anyone tell you that your lowest class “has the most room for improvement.” Your lowest class is your lowest class for a reason. If that class had regularly been pegging a full year’s academic progress or more overall, they would not be your lowest class. Your best bet to show improvement will come from those kids who have already surged to the front of the pack. Learning comes more easily to these kids. That’s why they are already outscoring their peers.

Eduhonesty: I’ve gone sideways here. I wanted to explain why the SLO minutes are being included in my count of standardized testing minutes. While today’s tests were not national tests, they represent a full day of testing in which I gave my students tests filled with information they had never seen before, tests that were not part of their grade. I am doing this so that the administration can make comparisons of progress at the end of the quarter.

Total minutes spent giving SLOs today: 225 minutes or 3.75 hours. The true time loss would be a bit more, since tests preclude making progress on other material. Students who finish do reinforcement work or help with class projects while we wait for slower students to get done. No new material was presented today. In fact, no lecture happened at all, although a fair amount of individual tutoring occurred here and there during testing.

Standardized testing and test prep time for the week so far: 9.92 hours

To add another component to my time management study here: Total meeting time for today ran 150 minutes, or 2 1/2 hours. Meeting time for the last two days (some of which I missed due to testing) ran 135 minutes. Total meeting time for the week so far then adds up to 4.75 hours.