I’m Like A Coat

Posted: January 8, 2015 in Education


Yes, I Googled “coat on coatrack” and copy/pasted the first image that showed up.
I do believe it accurately depicts how a teacher can feel just before the semester is over and exams quickly approaching.
“I’m Like A Coat” is not as glamorous as “I’m On A Boat,” but I bet I could come up with a good parody…

Teachers spend the majority of the semester urging students to seek help if they are lost. I know that for me, I spend much time repeating to my students to come and see me if the material becomes too difficult or overwhelming. Typically, I hear from the odd student now and then over the course of the semester, but they are few and far between. I am a coat on a rack – not needed and certainly unwanted. THEN, there is that magical time RIGHT BEFORE exams where I am popular and suddenly I am worn daily, on lunch breaks, after school, and through continuous messages needing my help. I will be expected to look my best (assist to the fullest) by ensuring that my coat has no holes, no pulled thread, and certainly no discolouration/fading. This all comes with the territory of being a teacher.

“Is it ever too late for them?” my non-teacher friends ask.
“It can be, yes.” I tell them. “When a student wants a 90% suddenly and there is a week left, but they are sitting at a 62%…I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

Let’s be realistic.

But yes, I am always willing to help – it’s my curse.

I’ll tell you what really grinds my gears lately, though. There was a recent article published by Ali Parrish on Edutopia. Her article was entitled, “3 Ways to Help Student Writing.” I thought to myself: Hey! That’s for me! I could probably use that!

Her article simply acted like one of MANY articles published recently – these step-by-step guides to becoming a better educator. All I’ve read lately are articles like: “10 Steps to Remember with the Flipped Classroom,” “5 New Ways to Re-Think Learning,” “8 Pathways to Every Student’s Success,” and, most recently, Ms. Parrish’s helpful tips…
I think what bothered me the most was her three “ways” to help student writing…
#1. Transcribe what the student says (they talk, the teacher writes)
#2. Have the students audio record themselves and then write their response based off of their recording (not bad)
#3. Basically the same as #2 except use dictation software…

Did you catch it? With the exception of #2 (kinda), none of those “ways” just had the student PRACTICE writing! I totally get it – using technology to assist is a GREAT method, but it’s not the only method. What about getting back to basics by putting a pencil into the hand of the student and assisting them with writing on the line and helping them formulate ideas? I’m also not adverse to technology – why not even have the students use their laptop and type out their sentences and ideas? From there, I don’t mind helping them with some editing.

I understand though – Ali Parrish wasn’t trying to develop a quick fix for student writing, she’s just trying to provide some alternative ways. I don’t mean to be so negative, but I often think that educators often try to use technology for every learning issue when sometimes getting back to basics can be the best option of them all.

The more students are exposed to reading, their writing and development of ideas will improve – read, read, read and practice, practice, practice.


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