Similarity amongst teachers with the same class

Discussion in 'General Education' started by RadiantBerg, Dec 25, 2013.

  1. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Dec 25, 2013

    Being Too Tough on the Kids

    All of the teachers who teach the same class in my department (i.e. all geo teachers or all calculus teachers etc.) are supposed to use at minimum 75% of the same assessments, and to cover the same topics within the same time frame (we can vary by a day or two, but not much...and test days must be the same).

    Anyway, one of the other algebra teachers I work with loves to make things extremely difficult for the kids. She would be a great honors teacher, but her CP kids are always lost...I had a few of her current students last year in my class, and they come to me for extra help some times and let me know how lost they are.

    We do discuss assessments together, and luckily they don't have to be 100% identical, only 75% of the items do. She usually takes the easiest 25% of what we agree on, and makes those questions significantly harder. She also doesn't believe in giving a whole lot of partial credit. I think she prides herself on being the "tough" teacher, and having low averages. Her test averages are usually in the ball park of 60-70%. Mine are usually 80-88% (one test I had a 78.5% average for a particularly tough unit). She frequently talks about how she wants them well-prepared for pre-calc next year, and I totally understand that (I want them well-prepared too!), but only about half of them go to pre-calc....the other half go to other "softer" courses...that other half is only demoralized by constantly receiving such low grades.

    I don't think that she is a bad teacher by any means, she just has drastically different expectations. Some may even say she is better than me by being so tough on them...I just find it hard. I don't want to feel like I am letting my kids off easy (I don't think I am---enough of them struggle with the basics!), but I also don't see any reason to make it so difficult that you would frequently have a D average on the test (and be happy with it!)

    What do you think? Do you teach the same course with someone who has totally different expectations and ideologies about teaching? Are you required to give common assessments etc?
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I'm in a similar situation to your teammate (not intending that as a slight at all to either you or her... I love working with my teammate! We just have different philosophies). We end up compromising a lot and trying to meet in the middle. I find with my kids that they rise to the expectations I set for them, but that's largely the demographics that I work with.
     
  4. RadiantBerg

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    I think my expectations are pretty high as well....just not as high as hers. I know it's different in 3rd grade, but would you consider averages in the 60s to be "rising to the expectations"? It doesn't seem to me that they are rising to that level.
     
  5. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    No, my averages tend to be in the 80s... the district tests we give though, I have had the highest class average in the district four quarters running, five quarters if we include state testing results (out of 100+ classes... yeah I'm bragging!), by high expectations I'm talking about class work, the formative assessments I give, independent practice, etc. It's not unusual for my quiz averages to fall in the 60s, but never a unit test.
     
  6. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Do you have a Department Chairperson that could talk to the other teacher? Making a course way more difficult then it has to be, really? That seems like that would not help students motivation.

    “The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple.” S. Gudder


    I have that exact quote as part of my signature in my email.
     
  7. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Does the Pre-Calc teacher(s) teach like this teacher? Has the Pre-Calc teacher let any of you know what he/she expects from the students that enrolls into his/her course? If your curriculum is aligned and you both teach the same content then you should both have students prepared for Pre-Calc. I would assume most of her students would not want to take Pre-Calc. Honors Algebra II I took last year did not seem too difficult. I can agree if she wants to be the "tough" teacher she should probably be teaching honors. However, I know my Algebra II and Pre-Calc/Trig honors teachers were not difficult by any means. I couldn't imagine that happening. However, I do think of a tough teacher when I think honors though. Maybe he/she is trying to be recognized and trying to let admin know that he/she has the "skill" set to teach honors? I'm not saying the rest of the math teachers do not.
     
  8. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    I do not have any direct experience with your situation as we do not share subjects (very small school). However, if I did and was in your shoes, I would compare eoc scores (if available). If there was enough data, I think it might be a good baseline from which to start drawing some conclusions.
     
  9. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    There are no EOCs here...yet.
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

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    The same used to be said about me. Until the EOC scores came back and showed that my numbers were higher than the "softer" teachers'.

    The big complaint from my students is that they don't understand/like the wording of the test questions. I've modified them several times and have even had the EC dept. look over the tests to see what I can do but no one has made any suggestions. I think the students sometimes get put off by the length of the stems and just quit reading before they randomly guess. Some teachers do toss the longer questions but that simply cannot be done all the time and still cover the standards.
     
  11. YoungTeacherGuy

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    My district is big on PLCs, so we develop and administer Common Formative Assessments.
     
  12. Go Blue!

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    The other HS history teacher at my school teaches the same courses that I do, but during different semesters. We are never teaching the same thing at the same time. There are district created Final Exams that we must use, but we can alter them however we want.

    Regardless, this teacher and I have VERY different personalities and very little in common in regards to teaching style. She's tougher on the kids in certain regards than I am.
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I have tried adopting a different mindset this year. I think last year I was similar to the teacher you're describing, and this year I want to see how my students fare if I ensure they're well prepared for the tests and can succeed on them.

    I see a lot more smiles when I give back test scores, but we're also about a week or two behind the other 8th grade science teacher. (Although I do feel he has rushed through a few things.) Some of my students have expressed gratitude that we're taking things a little slowly.

    I don't necessarily think it's bad that the teacher is getting lower averages, as long as she is doing some type of review on the things they didn't understand and perhaps gives them a chance to demonstrate their understanding on those concepts, (thus trying, failing, struggling to understand, and eventually overcoming the difficult parts).

    I don't think having students do poorly for the sake of doing poorly without addressing it is helpful to student learning.
     
  14. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    We have all common assessments (written by the team leader), so we are responsible for covering the same material during the same period, but HOW we teach is completely up to us. This is good because we all have totally different teaching styles. The students definitely compare us (my students are never thrilled to realize they got the history teacher that assigns research papers :p), but our assessment scores are generally within the same pass range.
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think that there's an misperception that giving lower grades is the same thing as being a good teacher. In my mind, being a good teacher is reaching the kids at the level they're at, and enabling them to understand the processes necessary to bring them to a higher level. Demoralizing your students, in my opinion, is counter productive.

    I'm very generous with partial credit. Nope, you won't get the full amount of credit unless the problem is completely right. But if you can demonstrate that you understand the process, if you can get through all the steps correctly, then you'll get the lion's share of the credit even if you do add incorrectly.

    There are teachers out there who seem to pride themselves on being difficult teachers. Kids who are already hesitant about the subject (I'm talking mostly math here, but I suppose it also extends to other subjects) are going to be defeated before they start. I refuse to be that teacher. My kids know that I fully expedt them to do well. On last week's trimester exams, I kept letting them know that I wanted "lots of hundreds!!!" (I got 7, and a slew of 99's and 98's.)

    Being a good teacher is more than training our kids in how to get through the tests. It's being a coach, a cheerleader, and so much more. High expectations are great, but only if we make it possible for our kids to meet those other expectations.
     
  16. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    There are also teachers out there who give fluff points for "effort" to boost grades and make kids feel better about themselves even when they haven't mastered the content. This is also prevalent among teachers who simply don't want to do with complaining parents and teachers; in other words, they're not doing their job and are passing the buck on to teachers in other grades and doing the students a disservice.

    This lack of alignment between grades and content mastery is the primary reason for rampant grade inflation in many secondary schools today.
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think we have to find some middle ground.

    In my mind, it's not all about the answer to a particular problem.It's about teaching my kids the thought process necessary to solve that particular problem, and others like it. If my kids can demonstrate that thought process, then they've learned what I've taught. And if they do, say, add wrong, I'm not going to take off full credit on a 8 or 10 point problem. It's not just about the answer, it's about demonstrating that you understand the process. Likewise, a kid who can "guess and check" his way to the right answer isn't getting much at all in the way of credit; he hasn't demonstrated that he understands the process of how to solve the problem. A similar problem with an ugly answer would be an issue for him, but less so for the kid who solved it mostly right but simply mis-added two numbers.

    I understand what you're saying about the "fluff" teachers; they're no better than those who demand perfection and nothing less from their kids.

    I think that the middle ground contains the vast majority of teachers. Teachers who prod and pull and cajole and demand the best from their kids, while not demeaining or demoralizing their kids along the way.
     
  18. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    These teachers are significantly worse than teachers who "demand perfection" because the emphasis isn't even on the content.

    If I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of rigor 100% of the time. That doesn't mean "not supporting students;" that means not giving credit when mastery hasn't been demonstrated.

    It's surely a continuum, not a dichotomy, but the fluff teachers are the reason we have such an emphasis on independent, standardized assessment in education today.
     
  19. 2ndTimeAround

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    For subjects where memorization is a huge part of mastery, partial credit and "meeting them where they're at" doesn't come into play as much. We all know that memorization is the lowest level of learning and that all students should be capable of mastering some vocabulary. With the exception of students that cannot read, all students should be minimally successful in my classroom. Beyond the basics though, I absolutely pride myself in high expectations for my students. I will give a fluff grade once in a while for encouragement and reward but they are not weighted very high. There are some in my department that give students tests the day before as study guides. There are some that curve as much as 20 points. There is a teacher in my school that will not give lower than a C on a report card. I think those practices do much more harm to students long-term than having high expectations.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    The OP teaches high school math. As do I.
     
  21. RadiantBerg

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    We cannot weight homework/classwork (the "fluffier" grades) as more than 15%. 85% is from tests and quizzes.
     
  22. Go Blue!

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    ICAM. I know some of these people and they think that they are proving something because few students get above an 80% in their class. Having high expectations and lots of rigor means nothing if the majority of students are not able to master concepts and succeed. These teachers always blame poor student grades on the students' lack of effort at meeting the teacher's high expectations. Furthermore, now the teacher is sending a group of kids onto the next grade/course unprepared, feeling defeated and, sometimes, turned off the academic subject.

    So what has the teacher really proven?
     
  23. Go Blue!

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    I get your point, but sometimes, you do have to meet kids half way and give a little. Some kids are not motivated enough to want to meet a teacher's high expectations especially if they think the teacher is just being tough to be tough and making it harder on them to succeed than necessary. Also, rigor is great but even those who are willing to work hard may not have the academic skills needed to meet high expectations/high levels of rigor. Some of these "tough teachers" won't give at all even when they see a student trying their hardest to succeed.

    I don't know the population/demographics you teach. But, in my experience, when you have kids that see no value in being at school/learning, have low academic skills/abilities and are very resistant to authority; being tough just be tough often backfires because it causes many kids to shut down since they feel like you are flexing your authority just because you can as the teacher. If a student never sees a good grade - despite their best effort - all quarter long, they will probably give up trying to meet the teacher's expectations at all.
     
  24. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    I'm not going to "give a little" when it comes to rigor. I teach primarily inclusion classes in a lower-middle class rural district. Many of these students have had the adults in their life "give" a lot and don't know what it means to actually set goals, put forth effort to meet the goals, and enjoy that feeling of satisfaction. Do you know what doesn't "give" a little when expectations haven't been met just because you're putting forth some semblance of effort? Employers, graduation tests, the IRS, etc.

    I'm at school over 60 hours a week designing lessons and assessments, tutoring students, and communicating with parents, guidance, and administration to give students the support they need to meet the expectations set forth in the standards. I am not going to lower the expectations, however. It's simply not an option, and my students know why. We have those conversations frequently because those moments are built into my curriculum.

    Edit: I will agree that teachers who intentionally don't support student learning because "they need to learn how to do it themselves," then brag bout how student grades are low because they're "tough" are committing professional malpractice, however.
     
  25. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Maybe it's because I'm a former elementary school teacher, but I felt that when my entire class bombed an exam, it was a reflection on how I taught the material. In my seven years of teaching, there were only a couple of times when my whole class failed a test. When I realized, however, that everyone bombed the exam, I knew it was time to me to go back to do some major reteaching.

    I feel very strongly that it was my job to give my kids the tools for success. I always had high expectations because I knew that I provided good teaching. When the kids would sit down to take the state exam, I'd tell them, "Show everyone what you know!"
     
  26. 2ndTimeAround

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    I used to feel the same way until I moved into the high school classroom. I have had a class filled with apathetic students and I have had a class full of students that are convinced that I would never fail an entire class so they chose not to study. Right now I have a class that will not even look over their notes before a test. The few that will are the few that pass. I can only do so much - at this level students have to do their own part.
     
  27. RadiantBerg

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    Would your admins support you failing a whole class?
     
  28. 2ndTimeAround

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    For a test, yes. The entire course? Probably not. But it wouldn't get to that point for me. If I absolutely did not have anyone passing the class after a few weeks in, I would call for help. Obviously something would be drastically wrong in my class if everyone was failing. Either they stacked the classroom poorly, roll-wise, or I was failing as a teacher. Something would be done.

    Thankfully I work in a school where it would be difficult to accidentally populate a class with nothing but students that want to rebel and slack off for an entire semester. Like I said before, I have had classes where students would band together thinking that they could dictate how I would manage a test. But once the the students that actually care about their grades learned that I won't back down they dropped the rebellion. Those failing grades, for the entire class most certainly did stand.
     
  29. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I think you should keep doing what you're doing and don't worry about what she's doing to her 25% of the assessments. As long as you feel that 100% of your assessments match the curriculum and standards you are obligated to teach and you could justify them if you were asked to, then I wouldn't be concerned. I'm surprised the parents of her students aren't complaining though because the way you tell it she seems a little bit ridiculous. The kids should have some feeling of success.
     

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