18 August 2006

Buzzkill

If you're a teacher in this district, you still have one more blissful week before you have to report for duty. If you're a kid, you have two more weeks. If you work in Curriculum and Instruction, summer is not a word you'll use again until late June 2007.

Today was a good way to ease back into things as 14 of us journeyed to Seattle to attend a workshop on science notebooks. There was a strong sense of positive outlook on things and using the information as part of the program that we're trying to build.

According to this year's science WASL scores, we're continuing to make a bit of progress at the elementary and junior high levels...but high school dipped again. This doesn't surprise me. Many kids didn't take the test seriously. They knew they had to pass Reading, Writing, and Math to graduate. It will be two more years before Science is added to that hallowed pantheon. What is disturbing is the normal bell curve Science continues to have in terms of the distribution of scores. Every other subject for every grade has a delightfully abnormal curve: it favours the upper end of the scale. It shows that teachers in those grades and areas are aligning their curriculum, instruction, and assessment: they understand what students are expected to do, support their learning, and can accurately measure student progress. High school science continues to be quite the stubborn mule, as I've mentioned many times in this blog. Sigh. I know they care deeply about their subject matter...and most of them like kids and their jobs. But the bottom line is that they have a much greater interest in their teaching than they do in student learning.

This evening (yes, on a Friday night), I was handed the task of providing a School Improvement Plan for Science for the elementaries (all 14) by Wednesday. The plan needs to have goals, timelines, responsibility assignments, formative measures, costs, resources, and monthly to-do lists for principals. On one hand, I'm glad that science will be given the same priority as math, reading, and writing---and on the other, this is a lot of work...and I still have the all-day inservice for new-to-the-profession teachers to plan for Monday.

Did I mention that one of our new science curricula sources couldn't find a trainer for the 30th? Or that I still haven't figured out what to do with the teachers of science electives on the 29th?

Despite the sense of panic and complete buzzkill of what is hanging over me, there is also this nice headspace where planning for the start of the school year used to be. If I can just find a way to make better use of it, I think things could get off to a great start...or at least continue along the path started today.

Welcome back!

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