Extra-Curricular Activities, Interning, and the Essence of Time

My belief has always been that life is about others and not ourselves. Thus, I have always been an avid volunteer and even though I get tired, or feel like I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off, or wonder “why am I doing this?” there are always those moments that show you just how important your time is.

As an intern, I believe the program allows us to gracefully enter into full-time responsibilities. Therefore, to keep myself busy and not coasting through the first month or two (as this will never be a reality once I have my own classroom), I decided to help coach/mentor Cross Country, Bantam Boys Volleyball, and the SRC. I believe that although I am giving my time, it is not selfless because you always benefit from being kind to others. This post is not to say that giving up your lunch hour or weekend is easy but what I am saying is that this volunteer time matters and there are benefits to doing so for both myself and the students. This week alone, I had three “this-is-why-I’m-doing-this” moments!

Moment number one: This weekend I had one student attending Cross Country Provincials after getting 6th place at Districts. It was so nice to see him thrive in athletics and to build a relationship with him in an environment that he enjoys. Furthermore, at Districts he was nothing but kind; congratulating people as they finished the race, shaking his competitors’ hands before starting, and hugging the kid that encouraged him to continue are just a few of the GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP things I saw him do. Note: I saw him do these things but never told him to.

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Moment number two: This week several students on the SRC gave up their lunch hours to help organize and wrap up recent fundraisers. Students were not required to volunteer their time but chose to take responsibility for the work and make their school a better place. It is easy to forget how much kids really care about their school and what is going on around them but they DO CARE and most of them are willing to put in EXTRA EFFORT to make their environment the best place possible.

Moment number three: This weekend the Bantam Boys Volleyball team placed first at the Gravelbourg tournament. However, it is not the standing that touches me. It’s that this group of boys LOVES what they are doing and GIVES IT THEIR ALL. It is nice to see them in an environment that they enjoy and thrive in. Not only do they try hard, but they are very nice to each other if someone makes a mistake. With fair playing time and younger students learning it is not uncommon for older students to get frustrated but instead, these boys support one another and allow each other to grow. After the tenth set out of eleven this week, I was surprised to have a kid come off the court and say “I don’t want it to be over. I LOVE VOLLEYBALL SOO MUCH! Why does the season have to be over in October?” The others nodded in agreement. I couldn’t help but think, “aren’t you tired?” as I smiled at his enthusiasm. And that was my third “this-is-why-I’m-volunteering-my-time” moment this week. Because what happens on the court (or on a committee) may not follow a curriculum. It is not school work and it may not be considered formal learning. But on the court (or on a committee) the students ARE LEARNING – to get along, preserver, focus during boring games, support one another, work hard, achieve greatness, bounce back from a mistake, react/problem solve quickly, be lifelong learners, be engaged citizens, use metacognition, and the importance of an active lifestyle –  and they ARE ENGAGED! My time matters and to any other teacher, community member, or parent who volunteers their time: your time matters, too!

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Creating Coherent Formative and Summative Assessment Practices

Lorrie A. Shepard’s article “Creating Coherent Formative and Summative Assessment Practices” outlines formative assessment practices that are more effective than exams. When students are faced with exams, or one time to shine, they are more worried “about what will be on the test rather than thinking about learning” (Shepard, 2006, p. 41). Grades, which are extrinsic rewards, “can reduce intrinsic motivation” (Shepard, 2006, p. 42). Thus, we need to create a learning culture instead of a grading culture, where students guide instruction and make connections to their interests and prior knowledge (Shepard, 2006, p. 41). Shepard suggests that teachers use pre-assessment, such as KWL charts, provide feedback that relates to the outcomes, allow students to self-assess, and plan with the end goal in mind (2006, p. 42-4). Furthermore, students need time to make changes based on feedback and apply knowledge to new skills and understandings (transfer knowledge) (Shepard, 2006, p. 44).

Shepard (2006) suggested that “replacement assignments and replacement tests or throwing out test scores when learning is verified in later assignments,” allows students to be evaluated fairly (p. 44). I never thought of this but really like the idea; everyone deserves a second chance and some students will take longer to complete an outcome but the goal is simply to complete the outcome, not necessarily all at the same time.

One thing that I have heard often but think is easier said than done, is creating “formative and summative assignments” that are “conceptually aligned” (Shepard, 2006, p. 43). Furthermore, I wonder how much time proper, fair and accurate assessment and evaluation takes. I think it would be best for me to start small and try to implement two proven researched assessment/evaluation practices at a time. I also have to accept that I will get better with practice and time but may need administrative and collegial support at the start.

For more information: Shepard, L. A. (2006). Creating coherent formative and summative assessment practices. Orbit, 36(2), 41.