Last semester, I took a research course on survey design. The course comprised of lectures, readings, a midterm, homework, etc., all the things you’d expect to find in a graduate-level class. But it also employed a project based learning approach to survey design. The class was broken into teams, and each team had a different project to work on. My team had an actual client outside of the course, the Honor Committee at UVA. They wanted us to conduct a survey on the reporting habits and perceptions of the Honor Code at the University. My team worked long and hard on the project, produced a report, and gave a presentation to the full Honor Committee last Sunday night. I felt as though the presentation went well.
Little did we know, there was a reporter there from the Cavalier Daily, Owen Robinson. Owen wrote this article about our presentation. Some (not all) of the major points in our presentation are that most students who observed an honor violation did not report the violation, and that students feel that there is disproportionate reporting based on demographics when there is no data to support that perception.
Two days later, Owen posted this article about the Honor Committee proposing changes to the Honor Code. In the article, it talks about how the proposed changes may eventually lead to the possibility (that sounds pretty weak) of a switch to a multiple-sanction policy. The Honor representatives in the article sort of brush aside our report saying that they were heading towards this proposal anyway, which I thought was a tad unnecessary of him to say, but that is his prerogative. What may have been more accurate for him to say was that our presentation did not make recommendations regarding single-sanctions opposed to multiple-sanctions. We said that students surveyed indicated that the consequence of committing an honor violation is a major deterrent for them to report someone who commits a violation. We also said that it would be interesting to compare our data with data collected at a school with a multiple-sanction policy.
Regardless of what this person thinks or what the people who are making comments on the webpage think, completing this work was a rewarding process. I enjoyed working with my team and we felt like we produced something valuable. It was also an added bonus having it reported in the paper. Hopefully some positive change will come about as a result of our work.
**As an aside, the Cavalier Daily website is not good. When I searched for “honor” to find the articles, Page 1 of more than 12 had 20 articles ranging from the years 2001 to 2014, in no discernible order. When I browse through “News” to “Honor Committee,” which is in the front page header, there are 5 featured stories from 2013, and then another 10 stories listed under “More Honor Committee” that are also from 2013.
I finished my last class yesterday, taking my final exam in Survey Design. I wish I could have done better, but it was a very hard test. Oh well. I won’t pretend that it’s the last final I’ll ever take. I know that I’ll be back at school again someday, despite having the “terminal degree.” There’s always an Admin endorsement to get. Maybe this will be my last class at UVa… only time will tell.
I started a summer internship this week with Albemarle County Public Schools’ Department of Accountability, Research and Technology (DART). There was a paid internship opportunity for six people, but I must have applied too late because I didn’t get it, but they’re still letting me do it for free! How nice of them!
I applied for this internship because I want to learn more about the technical side of Instructional Technology. Last summer there was a job posting for the Director of Technology in a local district. I printed out the job description and gave it to my former advisor and said “I’d like to learn how to do these things this summer.” He was supposed to be arranging an internship for me at the time, but it never materialized. So here I am learning it now! I’m pretty excited about it.
I only started yesterday, and I am working at one of the high schools this week. CFA rents the building for the summer to grade exams, so all of the computers in the building have to be moved to the wood shop so that the school computer technician can access them for servicing while the rest of the building is off-limits. CFA is moving in on Sunday, so I was helping break down and move all of the computers. We did that all day long yesterday and finished this morning.
This afternoon I got to do some new things. I switched out a broken hard drive on a laptop, then imaged the drive with the Albemarle stock image. Then I started to disassemble an entire Lenovo laptop to replace the casing and some wires that were broken. As boring as that might seem to some people, I really enjoyed it. It was like a puzzle, taking the computer apart and then putting it back together again. I think that tomorrow I’m going to do the same thing with a MacBook Pro. I don’t know what else I’ll do this week.
Next week I’m going to be at a middle school that is starting a 1:1 laptop program with all students. I’ll probably be doing a lot of inventory stuff, opening boxes and labeling machines. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot and I’m happy to help out.
I’m on my second day attending Dr. Robert Berry’s elementary math methods course for the week. I decided that it would be a good idea to see how such an expert is teaching future elementary teachers how to teach fractions, since I am struggling with a paper on issues related to fraction instruction in elementary school classrooms. Monday he didn’t start fractions, but instead finished up multiplication. Today he is focusing on partitioning using Cuisenaire Rods. Similar to my own experience in math methods courses during my pre-service education at William & Mary, it is a completely hands-on lesson, with students learning how to teach using manipulatives. This approach is exactly what I expected to see.
The problem is that these teachers are learning how to do this with manipulatives in their courses, but then getting into the classroom and relying on lecture and drill/practice. I am guilty of it myself, having manipulatives in my classroom and under-utilizing them. A lot of these preservice teachers have been struggling with the multiplication and the fractions, but the manipulatives help them to work through the problems and develop a better sense of proportional reasoning. Teachers need to understand fractions to teach fractions to students. Then the students need to use the manipulatives to understand, just as their teachers did.
Work and running intersecting again!
I’m teaching my EDIS 3450 students about audience and technology for language arts instruction. One of the important components is about how children’s writing (or digital production) changes when there is an authentic audience involved. It is also the topic of a video case study that I created last year as part of the Practitioner’s Guide to TPACK. Well, I was thinking about what to write on my running blog the other day about a workout that I did recently, and realized that having an audience changes things for running as well. I was supposed to run a lot slower in my workout, but the UVA swim team was at the track running around, and because of it, I ended up running too fast at the beginning and then was unable to finish the entire workout. I wasn’t prepared for the audience, and having them there changed my run.
Not the most profound discovery, and certainly not something I hadn’t considered previously, but it lined up with what I’m teaching in class right now pretty well.
One thing that I’ve really missed about coming back to school and leaving the classroom is my students. I loved living where I taught and being a part of my school community outside of the building. It was nice seeing students and their parents around Fredericksburg when I was out and hearing “Mr. Jacoby!” when around town. Every once in a while we’ll still hear it here, but it is usually “Mrs. Jacoby!” instead.
I’ve only been in three classrooms this year. A 3rd grade class at Burnley-Moran, a 6th grade class at Walton, and a 10th grade English class at Albemarle. I spent the most amount of time in the Walton class, and ironically have seen one of the students from that class outside of the building twice! Once at Chipotle on Teacher Appreciation night, and once at Sam’s Club. She was with her parents both times, but not being a teacher anymore I didn’t really think I should say anything to them (especially since she was one of the students’ who did not get permission to have their image used for our case study). I suppose if I see her a third time, I’ll just have to take it as a sign and say hello to the parents.
I definitely miss my own kids though! On Friday night in Harrisonburg, I saw some James Monroe kids who’d been at Lafayette with me and ran on the track team at Walker-Grant while I was coaching there. It was great to talk to them! As the school year is ending in Fredericksburg, I’m sorry that I never got a chance to return for a visit. Not so much to visit the teachers who I can see or call up when I’m in town over the summer, but just to see my old kids who are in 4th and 5th grade right now. I hope they’ve all had a great year!
Five days until the semester ends officially. I’ve got 3 classes to attend between now and the end of the day, April 30. I’ve got some work to wrap up outside of class, and plenty to grade for EDIS 3450 before May 13, but things are starting to wind down around here. Two students in the office and graduating and leaving for jobs. It’ll be sad to see them go!
I’m lining up some EdTech-related internships in town. I’m working towards 6 credits of Ed.D. practicum this summer and another 3 in the fall, so I’ll still be working all summer, just not in the office I expect. Hard to believe that “summer” may be starting soon but it won’t mean much to me. Just no classes. I spoke with someone in Charlottesville about how everything in the buildings is going to be “SOL SOL SOL” for the next month. Ironic that I largely stayed out of the schools all year long and will be going back in for the most stressful part.
It has been a good year though. And it is looking better each day!
It is not too often that running and teaching intersect in my life, aside from maybe getting in the way of each other. But a recent interview by the Jamaica Gleaner with 100m American Record holder Tyson Gay brought teaching and running together for me. Gay stated that “Those distance people and field eventers need to get some love from the media too.”
The quote comes from a question about USA vs. Jamaica in the sprints, and Gay goes on to say that there is more to our sport than just the sprinting, and that our sport doesn’t get the attention that it deserves as a whole. That much is undeniable. People don’t pay attention to track & field, or don’t give it much credit, because they think that anyone could do it. It takes someone special, someone like Tyson Gay or Usain Bolt, to make people realize that our sport is special, and worth paying attention too.
KC and I love Tyson Gay. He’s a great sprinter and a tough competitor. He does his talking on the track. When I was talking about this quote with her (It was LetsRun.com’s quote of the day on April 8), we both used the word “humble” to describe Tyson Gay, almost simultaneously.
That’s when KC compared running to teaching. People put down the teaching profession because they think that “anyone can do it,” much the same way that NFL players think they could be world-class sprinters (re: Adrian Peterson’s quest for Olympic Gold). Every once in a while some post comes up on Facebook about “What do teacher’s make” or “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach,” and it will have some 4 billion “likes.” But policy makers continue to make teaching a second-tier profession, and track & field is a second-tier sport on ESPN and the like. Sports celebrities might be able to change that for track & field, and certainly the fans could. But how do we improve things for the teachers?
Last night in my Teaching with Technology class, we explored primary sources through the use of virtual field trips and online communication with relevant figures.
Then we sort of got off-topic. The lesson plan that I was using was one that I’d made last semester for class on election night. I wanted to take the opportunity to caution my students about sharing their own political opinions with their young elementary students. Politics are polarizing, and some people will make judgements about a person and generalize their beliefs based on which candidate they support. I think it is far more important for parents to evaluate a teacher based on the way that they’re educating their children than on which way they lean politically. Who I vote for doesn’t matter to my students. They’ll ask me who I’m voting for because they’re curious and they want to learn. But rather than telling them, I would take the opportunity to discuss both candidates and some of the issues that they agree and disagree on. Keep in mind, I taught third graders, and a lot of it was over their heads, so I’d try to keep it light and simple. A lot of times they don’t hear about the issues, they just hear the slam campaigns.
Talking about this led to a discussion on other differences that teachers might have from parents; things like religious beliefs or sexual orientation. I don’t have a lot of answers for my college students. I refuse to tell them not to express themselves; Freedom of Speech is their constitutional right. But parents expect teachers to be of the highest moral standard–higher than they hold themselves. So I told my students that the best thing they can do, when confronted with topics like religion, sexuality, politics, or whatever, is to teach tolerance. We live in a great country that was founded on diversity and freedom. The United States is literally a “melting pot” (3rd grade social studies SOL) of different cultures, races, traditions, and beliefs. Each person is unique and special and entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (3rd grade social studies SOL), and we must appreciate them for what they are and accept it.
I hope that my college students never encounter parents in the teaching profession that are upset with them for teaching children to be accepting and tolerant of all people, not matter how diverse they are.
I picked the wrong year to start graduate school.
Last year, as a classroom teacher, I think we had zero snow days. In fact, our superintendent gave us the Friday before Memorial Day off to make up for it (I never understood all the built-in days and hours, shouldn’t we have ended the year early too?). My wife, meanwhile, in a school district notorious for cancelling often and early, only missed one day for the Earthquake that hit Louisa in August.
This year my former school district has missed a whole lot of days. It has to be somewhere close to 10 at this point. They’re out again today! I think they missed in the fall for Hurricane Sandy (so did UVA), and they’ve had a lot of snow this year. And it is a city school district, so it hardly ever cancelled since there wasn’t a lot of area the plows had to cover. My wife’s former district has missed 5 days in in the month of March alone! Here in Albemarle County she’s had a lot of days off too, which has been nice for her. Definitely making up for last year.
So I hope all the K-12 teachers are enjoying their days off this year!