Thursday, May 2, 2024

Croatia street
Photo by mali desha on Unsplash

We’ve reached the very nebulous time in the school year when end-of-year testing begins, my own doctoral courses have been completed, and I’m left as an instructional coach with a few days of, “What the heck am I supposed to be doing?” while I stay out of the way of testing.

Sure, I’m here to support however I can, but that usually just means giving someone a restroom break or contacting vendors for quotes on new tools for next school year.

It’s a very weird time of the year when I feel like I can be the very opposite of productive.

So, I spend my time as best as I can. I’m writing daily blog posts, catching up on some reading—OMG, Dan Simmons’s Hyperion is flippin’ incredible—and listening to a bunch of new music. I’m also searching for deals on physical media as I continue my war on the streaming gods.

If I sound a bit manic, it’s because I am. My usual frantic pace of writing papers and visiting classrooms has calmed down for the moment and will soon be completely stopped with summer break. But there’s still much to do, and I’ll keep sharing with you here.

And, if it all gets to be too much, you can always unfollow, unlike, and generally exercise your right as a human to tell me to go jump off a cliff.

Quote of the Day

"When everything feels urgent and important, everything seems equal. We become active and busy, but this doesn’t actually move us any closer to success. Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business." (Gary Keller, Jay Papasan, The ONE Thing)

“When everything feels urgent and important, everything seems equal. We become active and busy, but this doesn’t actually move us any closer to success. Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business.” (Gary Keller, Jay Papasan, The ONE Thing)

Indeed, being busy doesn’t necessarily equate to being productive. Filling your day with tasks may not get you any closer to achieving your objectives. Teachers confront this truth daily as they juggle multiple responsibilities. Many tasks, like grading student work and providing feedback, are indeed important, but do they always drive student learning forward?

Students genuinely desire feedback. However, could its impact be amplified if delivered in real time? Could teachers lighten their workload by completing feedback sessions before leaving school?

Consider altering the workflow. By providing more frequent feedback on smaller task segments and setting multiple “deadlines”, teachers can manage their tasks more efficiently. This approach, central to project-based learning, not only encourages active student participation but also facilitates quick formative assessments, which can be automatically scored with modern tech tools.

As students work on their projects, the teacher transitions into a supporting role as a coach. The need to grade work daily becomes redundant. This may contradict the expectations of some administrators and parents who believe regular grading is proof of teaching. However, it’s an opportunity to redefine teaching’s true essence, shifting the emphasis from grading to facilitating learning.

Musical Interlude

Sharing a bit of her creative process, Sara from Teagan & Sara shares this acoustic version of ‘Back in Your Head’ and talks about her guitar avoidance.

Long Read of the Day

In December 2020, as the pandemic kept demonstrating the “digital divide” that exists between socioeconomic classes and the availability of high-speed internet, the US Government created the Affordable Connectivity Program. While the program brought about many worthwhile societal benefits, it’s now running out of money.

Video of the Day

Here’s a collection of Phil Hartman’s host segments when the “Grinch” TV cartoon was screened in December 1994, including interviews with Dr. Seuss’ wife Audrey Geisel, animator Chuck Jones, songwriter Albert Hague, voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft, and superfans like Danny Elfman and Tim Burton.

I vividly remember watching this when it aired and thinking, “holy crap, this guy is hilarious.”

Final Thoughts

OK, my brain is pretty fried right now. Not much here for final thoughts. Keep creating new things, even if they suck, because they will get better. This newsletter is a prime example 🙂

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