Monday, October 24, 2005

Notes From The Education Underground: The TeachWonk Diaries

Call today Blue Monday.

I spent the better part of this weekend designing a "killer" power-point presentation for my (mostly) functionally illiterate class of seventh-graders in order to introduce them to a brand-new history unit.

This would be the first time that I had used the program with students, though I have employed it several times when presenting to adults.

Several hours of exacting research went into this lesson's preparation, with several slides featuring original writing as opposed to merely cutting and pasting from online sites.

The overall presentation was designed to be fast-moving, with precision timing of the delivery.

I have found that the key to a successful show is to keep it from "dragging." The goal was total student engagement, giving the kids ample opportunities for participation through questions and discussions. Every moment would be filled with teaching and learning, wrapped into a neat little package that would just fit into our 50 minute period.

I went to my classroom Sunday evening to practice timing and delivery, and to ensure that the supporting technology was ready to go. I wanted everything to be perfect.

And when I got to school today, I discovered that the principal and his two assistant principals had "forgotten" to tell the teaching staff that there would be much shorter classes today as a student assembly had been scheduled in the afternoon.

I had no alternate lesson plan, and as this was the introduction to the unit, I had no alternative than to give the lesson that I had prepared.

Predictably, the whole thing was a disaster, with poorly timed delivery, missed slides, and "hurried" audience feedback. It didn't help that the kids were "wired" because of the unexpected schedule change.

Of course I know better than to complain to the "professional educators," (This is how our Superintendent, Dr. Evil, refers to principals and above while he calls classroom teachers "service providers.") in the members only lodge school office, as those who complain in this district are often punished with bad evaluations.

It's too bad that we teachers don't get a chance to evaluate our administrators.