Sonntag, 13. April 2014

Topic round-up: performance assessment, law, content and a change

Since my last post we have reached a new waypoint. We are so close to finishing that there are actually more days off for official holidays, than there are days where we have to be present at the university. With this shift in direction came the interesting change in demeanor and/or mindset for quite a few of our teachers. Before, I often wrote about my general issue of not enough real-life-related teachings for us, but since the last term has started, it feels like there is somewhat of a panic creeping in, with the realization that a lot of the student-teachers are really going to be in schools ‘teaching’ in around 6 months.

In the three years of this teacher training program, just now at the end, we are hearing about performance assessment. For me this brought up two thoughts: Is the actual performance asessment really that important for student-teachers? Shouldn’t we only learn about didactics, methods, how to teach and communicate properly with kids, rather than focusing on the end-result? But this is something we have no real control over, since most of it is the 'law'. The second issue that’s bothering me is that we get stuffed full of all these assessment-topics in almost every seminar. This can get annoying real fast, especially if you get to hear the same exact thing in consecutve seminars. Now I’m not entirely certain if that is because of the lack of communication between the teachers themselves, or just simply the problem of teacher-education-policy. Either way, it is frustrating. Even taking it a step further and truly focusing on the content, you don’t get very far because of the regulations that are school-law. In our classes (lower secondary school) there aren’t that many different assessment methods that you can use, because in order give the kids grades, there are a couple of regulations you have to abide by. 

Working through the school-law for grading and performance assessment, painted a much clearer picture on why teachers tend to have a somewhat high burn-out rate. It is not easy taking everything into account, which is why it feels so wrong to have this big of a focus on not true-to-school-life related topics. While we were going through this law, we often heard that we also have to take into account how parents would react, and that it has to be made clear for all the participants how it works. I think all this can be really tough on beginner-teachers, it would be helpful to have some kind of a guide or mentor that they could contact when they have issues.

Like I already mentioned above, it has been fascinating to see how the teaching went away from plain content to ‘how would you teach that in class’ more and more. But it also brings me back to my other point, why just now? It has to be their conscience whispering to them ‘do you realize these people will stand in front of a class in less than 6 months?’ I find it somewhat amusing, but more disturbing. And again, I wouldn’t want to blame our teachers entirely, I think everybody has their part to play, some do it better and with more effort, some don’t even bother looking up the ‘rules of the game’ or thinking two steps ahead. Whatever it may be, soon it will be all over for us. Regardless (or in spite of) all the troubles through the last couple of years, there is already a sense of relief in the air, which will quickly change for many people, when they are thrust into action just a couple of months from now.