Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shouldn't This Be Exciting

Earlier today a teacher shared how excited they were about the types of products and public exhibitions students were putting forward.  Students embraced the open space of a classroom setting to create meaningful resources. Products that were shared with me represented true craftsmanship and pride in one's work.  It was apparent that students valued time to think and interact with peers, educators and mentors.  During public presentations, students were making genuine cross-disciplinary connections and self-assigning utility to what they had learned.  As opposed to a single moment, for this teacher the passing week has proven to be memorable and an inspirational reminder of what students can achieve.

The somewhat strange part of this conversation is that it happened during midterm week.  For those involved, midterms can be a grueling process.  Students are challenged to prepare for an avalanche of assessments in a condensed period of time.  Teachers are pressed to evaluate student performance, provide extra help and plan for upcoming endeavors.  Teachers as well often are faced with narrow deadlines to accomplish these tasks.

I have never been a strong supporter of midterms (Midterm Season 1/24/11).  If you are going to have midterms and create a "special" schedule, why shouldn't teachers and students be excited about outcomes stemming from midterm assessments?  I offer this question with the utmost sincerity, what is the point if those involved in an assessment are not intellectually challenged and moved to explore far reaching outcomes?

It is a stretch to see the reason for midterms (or any assessment for that matter) if the end result and or finished product fails generate a prideful sense of accomplishment and sense of excitement over what is being shared.  We will soldier on with the hope that students and teachers are inspired by this week and not left questioning the value of midterms.