The Line Between High Expectations and Impossible Expectations

Published: 2016-05-12 11:00 |

Category: Teaching | Tags: teaching

I absolutely hate teaching bonding. The abstract nature of atoms, the minutiae of nomenclature, and the details of writing formulas bog students down and I struggle to meet their needs. So, we do POGILs, simulations, speed dating, labs, and drills. Lots of time is spent trying to correct patterns of work to meet the learning objectives.

This year, I just can’t seem to meet those goals. I feel like I’m at my wits end and I’m just ready to move into something else for the plain sake of mixing it up a little bit.

I know it’s not my fault entirely. I know I can rely on the multiple short assessments – formative and summative – that I’ve given over the last three weeks (almost) checking on progress. I know I’ve recovered and retaught major points of confusion.

I also know I can’t force students to do something they’re patently disinterested in doing.

Standards based grading is a double-edged sword in that regard. They’ve done plenty of work, but there is still a major lack of understanding of the main ideas, so I cannot report, through the grading system, that they’ve learned the objective. Ethically, I’m not willing to cross that line. At the same time, I question the level of expectation I’ve set up as students work to demonstrate what understanding they have. Am I expecting too much?

The line between high expectations and impossible expectations is thin. Trying to walk it is an exercise in rationalization and stubbornness.

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