Something that always stumps me…

Hey mentor,

Here’s a question for you: what do you do with a student who doesn’t want to present?

I just handed out the culminating assignment for my 3UI course.  Part of that culminating, of course, is the oral component.  A student comes up and says that she’s willing to take a zero on that portion so long as she doesn’t have to present.

My initial reaction to her was that this was a HUGE chunk of her mark and oral components are necessary, not only in the course, but in life too. I told her that we can discuss this at a later date-she should take some time to really look the project over and she might build her confidence once she’s finished reading her novel and done research, etc.

So, what to do? I mean, if we’re looking at differentiated instruction here then I should be providing her with options.  But, I don’t think we’re building life skills if we just let all students present at lunch or not present at all because they’re nervous.

Look at how often any adult in their career job has to collaborate, communicate with co-workers and present information, findings, projects, etc.

If a student had a documented medical condition where they experienced anxiety during presentations, then that’s a different story.

What to do with a student who just outright doesn’t want to present because she is nervous?

What do you say to calm these students down? Keep in mind that she has already presented in a group. In her case, she said she’s NEVER had to present anything alone. It’s all been in groups.

I’m not willing to give her a zero on that portion, but I don’t think I’m willing to let her not complete that component.  Realistically, EVERYONE is nervous ( I told her this).

What do you do mentor?

Long Term? Im trying to get through the day!

Long Term Goals-it’s funny that you ask that.  Yesterday I was cleaning out a drawer and came across a yellow piece of paper that was all folded up. When I unfoled the paper I was staring at a list of “long term goals” I had made for myself when in high school. Our teacher told us to write some goals down, fold the paper up and stick it in our wallets.  The point was that apparentlywe would achieve them easier because they would always be at the back of our mind. 

Do you know what my goals were?

1. Graduate high school and go to university-double major in English and Spanish

2. Go to teacher’s college

3. Become an English and Spanish teacher

4. Be nicer to other people

5. Don’t worry about the small things and be the bigger person in situations of conflict

You know what, that exercise actually worked! I achieved my first 3 goals and of course the last two are ones that I’m constantly working on.

Now, what about my goals for my career? I haven’t really sat down to think about it. Isn’t that funny? We spend all of our childhood planning for the next step, what do you want to be when you’re older. Now that I’m older, why should I stop planning?

So mentor, here are my goals for my career that I’m going to write down, print off and keep in my wallet 🙂   (in no particular order)

1. Get my full honour specialist title (take the Spanish course required)

2. Go to more PD workshops that focus on strategies in the classroom

3. Take more AQ courses-I would really like to take guidance and perhaps get into that later on

4. Continue to develop lessons that interst students and are interactive

5. Not to stress the small stuff-try not to take things so personally


What do you think? Ultimately, when I wanted to get into teaching, I knew that I wanted to be a life learner.  As long as I am always learning new things and using those new things to help me be a better-more well-rounded individual is my overall goal….sound cheesy?

TPAs, Levels, and Other Fun Things

Dear Protege:

I felt so badly for your student–can you imagine if no one treated YOU any differently on your birthday? I know I would be pretty miserable–why do we expect more from our students? You did the exact right thing, of course; you made her feel special because you took the time to care. Teenagers aren’t born with bad attitudes–it takes years of breaking their little hearts down before they become the seemingly uncaring, surly creatures we are sometimes faced with. Whenever I have to deal with a particularly negative student, I always picture him or her as a happy, toddling two year-old, full of life’s promise, and remind myself that some kids have bigger burdens than others.

As for your TPA, yes, they can be scary in theory, but don’t stress too much about it. The administrator who visits your classroom will be looking for very specific things. First and foremost, the rapport you have with your class will count for a great deal. Within 30 seconds, the atmosphere will be noted, and the VP will be looking for a sense that the kids feel comfortable with you, and that there are expectations for behaviour that are being met. Also important is the “second teacher” in the room–the four walls. What’s on the walls? Student work, anchor charts, interesting things to look at? In other words, do the walls show that you care about the state of the classroom? Nothing screams apathy more than bare bulletin boards. Finally, the adminstrator who visits will be interested in the content of the lesson. Remember, it doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering, but it should incorporate a variety of strategies, demonstrate organization, and be student-centred. You’ll get to pick the day and choose what the lesson will be–as we get closer to the day, I’ll help you with all that.

Levels. Why do we use them? Personally, I use them for diagnostic and formative assessment only, and for peer and self-assessment. Anything summative should be measured in percentages.  Until the day that universities, colleges, and apprentice programs want us to report in levels, I’ll be giving my students percentage marks. That’s reality–there are standards that we have to uphold, because we don’t exist in a vacuum. This is what differentiates us from camp counsellors. Sure, I’d love to play rah rah dodgeball or make friendship bracelets all day, and just tell kids orally that “they’re doing great!!”, but that wouldn’t make me much of a educator, would it? And neither would refusing to give marks, or levels, or use evaluation tools like rubrics and success criteria. Personally, I’m very happy that the last surgeon who operated on me needed a particular mark to get into medical school and was held to a very high standard, instead of just being told he was “doing great”. 🙂

Here’s a question for you. Have you been giving any thought to long-term career plans/goals? What are they? Where do you see yourself in ten years? And on that note, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Levels to marks….huh?


It’s funny that you wrote that post. On Friday I actually had to speak with my 3UI class about their behaviour while I was gone to NTIP on Thursday. Believe it or not, it was my 3U course, not my 3C course, that had attitude problems.

When I started speaking to the students whose names were on the page I realized that there was more to the story than a “poor attitude”.

When I confronted one student about what was written (it said she refused to do work and was rude) she admitted that she was rude. Instead of attacking, I asked if she was okay and if she could explain what happened. Do you know what it was? It was her birthday that day and no one had made her feel special. She also hadn’t taken her pills that day and didn’t feel comfortable asking if she could work in a different room. 

So, to the supply teacher, she was rude and non-compliant. In actuality, she just needed someone to show her that they cared. 

We were able to rationally talk things through. I first started off with a “happy birthday” and “tell me what you did for your birthday”. Gradually, I got to her conversation with the supply teacher. She admitted that she was short and rude. She was also able to understand that the situation would have been handled much differently had she mentioned to the teacher that she was having a bad day and didn’t take her meds. 

On another note: How about my TPA? Scary. What kinds of things will I have to do? In my letter it stated that I will be having a meeting shortly to discuss finer details.  As much as I thought I wouldn’t be nervous about it, Im kind of freaking out! Isn’t it funny that I will be reviewed and Im in my 5th year? I think this would have been beneficial had I been in my first year teaching and in need of guidance. 

Oh, another thing I wanted to ask…sorry, I’m all over the map on this one! On a rubric I provide a mark as well as level.  Why do we have levels when markbook is still all in marks? (I know we can input it as levels too but don’t). Why do we still do marks on report cards rather than levels? Does everything even out in the end? I heard it does and that because marking is subjective (for the most part) each person would end up with a mark somewhere in the same range. However, what about trying to get into university or college? An 82% is very different than an 85 or even 86%. Why are we all still in levels but not post secondary? This whole system just doesn’t seem to be consistent…especially teachers that refuse to use levels, rubrics, etc.

Just something that I always think about 😉

Thanks mentor!