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Tuesday - October 21, 1997

I was about to say that today was another standard day... until, that is, I remembered that I was evaluated today. Not surprising, but definitely not standard.
    I'm still mildly surprised at how little I care about the assessment part of Parker's evaluation. His presence in the classroom and his grade (if he gave one, I never checked) meant next to nothing to me. His evaluation does matter. That is, his comments on how to improve my lesson have definite merit and I welcome them. But beyond that, I really don't have very much of a reaction to his being in my classroom.
    I suppose this has many different roots. One big one is the fact that I don't really care what grade I get in the class beyond a passing one. The scores of companies looking to hire me now don't give two hoots what grade I get in student teaching. And if they don't care, it just comes down to personal pride. I want my grade to reflect my teaching and I hope I'm doing 'A' teaching work (why do something if you're not going to give it your best?) but if I don't get one, I'm not going to be crushed. Besides, Maureen's assessment (and grade) means a LOT more to me than Parker's does. Maureen sees me day in and day out. Parker sees me on a few isolated incidents.
    Another reason it doesn't bother me that he is doing the evaluation is that I know that I'm not doing a bad job. If I was, Maureen would have told me that a long time ago. Don't get me wrong, I definitely need improvement in certain areas... but overall, I'm doing fine. The worst Parker could do would be to pick on specific faults with me and as I said earlier, I value those comments.
    So there was no surprises in his visit. He thought that my lesson plan wasn't really good enough. He's probably right. My lesson plans are primarily for me. I can get an entire hour's worth from them -- I'm not sure anybody else could, though. When I go on plant trips, though, I do make a point of giving Maureen a sufficiently detailed plan.
    He also thought that I assumed too much, knowledge wise. I agree with him here, also. That is one of my biggest faults teaching freshmen. I have had so much math that algebra is second nature to me. I have to consciously tell myself to talk at the student's level. I'm still working on that, though.
    He also gave some very good suggestions concerning going over homework with the class. I already am having the students come up to the board and work out problems. I also am starting to have the students explain how they worked out each problems, rather then me explain to them what they just did. Parker gave the further suggestion that I should play Devil's Advocate a little. I tried this 5th hour, then. When a student would tell me that he, say, subtracted 5 from both sides, I would ask him "why didn't you multiply first?" The quality of responses I got varied. Some people had no clue why they did things in any particular order (their test grades will reflect this). Others gave clear reasons (with a little prompting).
    My other classes were (as I was about to say) "standard to the point of being boring." I went over quizzes and then homework in both Algebra I and II. In geometry, I handed out a quiz and went over their chapter tests. After that, I turned them loose to work on their investigations.

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