Sunday, October 07, 2007

Teaching Woes #2

From Historianess:
Yesterday I gave a quiz in my survey class. I like quizzes; they're a good way to measure how well students are picking up basic facts and patterns, and they're a good way to see both if the students are reading, and how they are doing the reading.

One of the easier questions was "Name two Puritan colonies." Based on my notes, they had three options there: Massachusetts Bay, New Haven (I would accept Connecticut as an answer), and Providence Island. I figured some students would answer with Plymouth or Rhode Island, which would give me an opportunity to remind them that the Pilgrims were Separatists, and that Puritans considered theologically-liberal Rhode Island to be a den of iniquity.

Instead, about two-thirds of the class answered with "Jamestown" or "Virginia."

ARGH! I'm sure that somewhere in a lecture I did talk extensively about how Massachusetts was a Puritan colony and Virginia was *not* a Puritan colony.
From elle's best friend, a high school teacher:
Girl, I'll be up there, thinking I'm teaching my heart out. And they seem to be listening, they ask questions, we talk... then they take the test. And girl!!!
No, she didn't need to add anything else.

From elle herself, after recent exam results in one of my classes:
My God, are they in the same room I'm in?
Seriously, like most professors, I work really hard to give fair exams and quizzes. The vast majority of the time it goes well.

But sometimes, I get results that send my blood pressure through the roof. I don't worry inordinately about really, really low failing grades--those are typically earned by students who don't come to class and/or who admit that they didn't prepare.

Nope, it's the 50s and 60s that really bother me. It's as if there was some effort, but something just didn't quite click. A lot of questions run through my head: What didn't they understand? How could I have presented the material in a different manner that may have stuck with them? How could I have helped them make connections? Was it a "good" exam?

Of course, there are the questions that bother you deeply, the ones that are hard to face--about your ability, skills, and effectiveness as a teacher in general. For example, I can honestly say that I believe I am a "good" teacher, but there are areas in which I want and need to improve.

And that is one thing that has been difficult for me--sitting down and developing goals and plans for how to improve and continue to grow.

No comments:

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...