In addition to the sixty lessons I am dutifully planning (ahem) each week, I'm also supposed to be taking notes on all the strategy lessons I'm doing with my small groups during independent working time in reading, writing and math. I have a sheet for every student in each subject that lists their three goals for the unit, and every time I meet with that student for a strategy lesson, I fill out a little box with the date, my teaching point, my observations of the student, other "things I notice," and whether the student has "mastered, attempted or not mastered" the teaching point.
So, let me break it down for you. Let's say I have five students who share the common goal of developing strong conclusions to their stories. And my teaching point for the strategy lesson is "Writers develop strong conclusions by writing how they felt at the end of the story." That means for each one of those students, I'm taking out their piece of paper and writing that same teaching point in the little box. "Writers develop strong conclusions by writing how they felt at the end of the story." "Writers develop strong conclusions by writing how they felt at the end of the story." "Writers develop strong conclusions by writing how they felt at the end of the story." "Writers develop strong conclusions by writing how they felt at the end of the story." "Writers develop strong conclusions by writing how they felt at the end of the story."
Did that just drive you crazy to read that five times? Imagine how I feel writing it five times. I feel like Miss Brave the Trained Teacher Monkey, that's how I feel. Not to mention that I still haven't figured out how to write notes on my observations and other "things I notice" of five students while simultaneously trying to, you know, teach the lesson. Plus, keep in mind that this is one strategy lesson, for one subject, and I'm supposed to be doing two strategy lessons per day in three different subjects, which means that if each strategy lesson has five students, and I'm doing six strategy lessons a day (in an ideal teaching world, of course), I'm filling in little boxes of observations and things I notice and teaching points thirty times. Per day.
The point of all this is that I detest that sheet full of boxes that we use for writing, so I attempted to redesign it to make it work better for me. I basically took the same sheet we use for another subject, which is slightly more manageable, and modified it for writing. Then I sent it off to my AP in a groveling e-mail in which I asked permission to use my sheet instead because I thought it would work better for me. Note italics.
First let's set aside the small indignity that I had to ask permission to modify my own note-taking procedure (hello, Miss Brave the Trained Teacher Monkey). My AP e-mailed me back that she would bring it up at the next cabinet meeting (um, whatever that is) and get back to me.
Rrrrrghhh. It literally has to go before a committee before I can use it, and if the committee decides it's a good redesign, they will probably foist it upon every teacher in the school. One of my co-workers recently redesigned our reading sheets, and she said it took about a month before her design was "approved," and when it was, it was handed down to us like Moses receiving the Ten Commandments -- this was The Reading Sheet We All Had to Use.
As my colleague dryly noted, "They want us to differentiate instruction...but they don't." Seriously, all I'm trying to do is organize my own way of collecting my own data in order to drive my own instruction, but God forbid I'm not doing it in the same little boxes as everyone else. I'm starting to feel like that dude in Network.