In a previous post, I listed my five stages of teacher grief after an assessment went very, very poorly. When I saw the results, I felt like I might as well have been speaking gibberish in class for the past three weeks and no one told me. In that post I promised another post where I discussed the psuedoteaching I did and the pseudostudying the students may have done. Well, here it is.
I lectured too much.
I generally plan for 15/20 min of lecture and 20 min of skill practice/activity in a 40 min period. But when they didn't seem to be getting the concept check questions, I just kept talking. sometimes for the whole period. Then, here's the worst, I didn't move the activity or skill practice to the next day. I just started up the next content topic like they had mastered yesterday's material.
I didn't check for connections.
I assumed they would take yesterday's content (which they didn't get to practice or apply) and keep it in mind with today's new content. However, if they hadn't fully processed yesterday's content, or even last night's reading, I can imagine they'd be in a place where they'd push that aside and just try to focus on what's going on in class right now -- without the crucial connections to what we did before. In a discipline like chemistry where you need to understand electronegativity to determine molecular polarity, this kind of daily compartmentalizing can be disastrous.
Students don't always know what they don't know.
In talking to other teachers, they shared with me things they've seen the students do in their classes that may have been happening in mine as well. When they have practice problems, sometimes students look at it and say "I know how to do that" and move on without actually trying it and seeing if they're correct. It's the like the passive re-reading type of study I talked about in this post: to really learn, quit studying and take a test.
Students can be rigid.
Another teacher shared with me some perspective on the assessment. The students had done practice problems, but had studied them in such a way that they were unlikely to transfer that strategy to a new situation or a new chemical. In my own experience, I find some students to be very dependent on visual cues. If I reformat the same problem, they may not recognize it as one they know how to solve.
On top of all that, the students were a bit emotionally drained on the day of the assessment. Something upsetting had happened, and the class was a bit shaken. I think the experience was bad for them, and they went out and told the later sections that the test was difficult, nigh impossible, and all the later sections came in feeling already defeated.
ANYWAY! time for that acceptance stage, where I reorganize, reteach, and reassess. more on that later.