Friday Feedback Loops

I know- I’m tired on a Friday afternoon too so there will be no 2,000+ word think piece on the history of America today.

Thank God.

Just a quick little piece to pontificate about over the weekend.

*deep exasperated sigh* alright, let’s just get this over with.

Let’s talk a little bit about feedback loops.

One of the reasons I’m starting to get so fired up about about education is due to the simple idea of a feedback loop. I’m not in the mood to go about making graphs and shit so I’ll just use arrows to show it.

Personal factors -> Behavior -> Environmental influences

I was given an example in class the other day that went a little something like this:

Personal factors: student with low self esteem

Behavior: student gets bad grades

Environmental influences: teachers/parents scold student for getting bad grade

And the loop continues.

It’s a fairly easy concept to understand. Personal factors lead to certain behaviors and then those behaviors are either reinforced or corrected by environmental influences.

I think it’s ridiculous to try telling a student with low self-esteem “Hey… stop that” and expect to witness any change. Similarly, a teacher giving a student a good grade purely out of sympathy and not the quality of their work is not setting them up for the phrase we hear all too often:

The real world (which, by the way, doesn’t saying “the real world” imply that we live the first 22 years or so of our lives with some sort of distorted fantasy view of life? Sorry, I digress).

For those reasons, I think the best option for dramatic change regarding struggling students is to alter the environmental influences around the student.

If a kid is struggling in class and getting bad grades maybe the best option isn’t to scold them and say “You didn’t study hard enough” , “Try harder”, or the ultimate shitty teacher cop out of “I don’t give grades you earn them” (we know, but as a teacher you’re expected to- um- how should I say it? Teach).

Maybe the best option is to… oh…I don’t know…

Provide some positive feedback that focuses on the reality of the negative behavior  but takes into account personal factors in order to determine a method of improvement best tailored to that student going forward.

I know- it’s a crazy concept.

You might think that most schools already do this but I disagree.

The smart kids are smart and the “dumb” kids?

They’re just not trying hard enough.

A teacher doing this just one time is not going to be enough to inspire change. It has to be a daily effort for every student in their classroom.

But Pat these teachers are grossly underpaid- why should they bother going the extra mile?

Did they think education was a gold mine industry going into it?

If you’re a teacher and you’re not giving total effort to every student in your class please do everyone a favor and just stop teaching. I would hate to think that you went through all those years of schooling and got all those fancy degrees only to hand out a worksheet and scroll through Facebook the rest of class.

If I don’t say it; who will?

NNNN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Case Against Minimum Word/Page Requirements for Students

 

As I write this headline, I can do nothing else but picture the thousands of teachers shaking their fists in the air and saying something along the lines of “Oh stop complaining! Kids these days are just lazy!”

And for the most part? I actually tend to agree.

But with that being said, a small piece of me dies inside every time I see an assignment handed out with a page or word count requirement attached to it.

Trust me (or don’t but keep reading- it’s good for you) I understand the motivation for doing it. From a teacher’s perspective they probably assume that if they don’t give a required amount of pages/words then they will be swamped with responses lacking any critical thinking and/or insight.

An understandable line of thought? For sure.

Jesus, then what’s the big deal?!

Well, the big deal with minimum page/word requirements is that doing so encourages bullshitting to the tenth degree (in my not so humble opinion).

Instead of students asking themselves “How am I going to write a great paper?” the focus instead becomes “How can I fill X amount of pages?”. Also, I feel compelled to question the logic of encouraging students to write more just for the hell of it. Think about a person you know who takes 15 minutes to spit a 5 minute story out. Don’t you wanna just smack them upside the head and tell them “T-t-t-today junior!” ?

I know I do.

So why is it that we encourage students to make what could be a compelling, intelligent, and to the point 3 page paper into the infamous 10 pager? Is it so we can say we’re challenging them? Is it because educators want to read 3 sentences of information that could be sufficed with one? Is it because it’s fun to watch the students suffering?

The reality of the situation is that by the time students reach university they have had the question of “How long should it be?” programmed to be their first burning question when an assignment is distributed. It’s an issue that starts developing as early as elementary school and it’s not going to change overnight; but we can sure as hell start today.

I honestly could go on forever but I guess I’ll leave it at that.

Cause I just hit the minimum word count.

NNNN

Presidents Day Extravaganza Blog

Presidents Day is one of my favorite holidays. It’s a day to remember all the wonderful leaders of our country, their remarkable achievements, and of course I am completely making all of this up but thank not only God but Jesus for this day off.

The real reason for this post is whilst meandering through old files on my 15 inch MacBook Pro (to brag) I stumbled across some gems in the form of high school video projects.

Now, I know what you might be thinking:

Talking about high school still? What a pathetic loser!

And you would not be wrong in doing so.

But if you have nothing else to do on this fine Monday holiday sit back, relax, and enjoy:

U.S History Junior Year

Back in my day, it used to be pretty commonplace for teachers to give homework over break with the reason being to keep student’s brains from turning to complete mush. Needless to say; I despised this. Luckily, parents started to complain (as they do) that kids were doing too much work over their vacation prompting our school to a no homework over break policy. I thought it was smooth sailing from that point on but one cunning teacher of mine assigned a project the day before the last day of break.

“Oh, start it tonight and I guess whatever you don’t finish…..”

“You’ll just have to do over break!”

I like to imagine this was the reaction in the teacher’s lounge at the telling of that move:

Long story short, I blew off the assignment until the last weekend before heading back to school. It was then that my Dad told me we would be going on a trip to New York to visit Times Square and I could bring along a friend I wanted. It took some convincing but I finally got the one and only John “The Brow” Agnitti to come with me. Unfortunately, (and my selective hearing may or may not have played a role in this) we didn’t wind up in New York.

We wound up in Newark, New Jersey

I have nothing against the fine people of Newark but now I was stuck in a worthless city, with someone who was questioning the decision of friendship, and a full-blown project due the next day.

It was the polar vortex of Sunday Scaries.

But, with the help of Victoria Justice’s “Make it in America” it culminated in one of the finest works of production in modern-day media:

Anatomy Workout Senior Year

This project was about filming a workout and using scientific nerd language to describe the muscles in the body. I figured doing this for ten minutes or so would be boring as hell so I dragged my little brother down into the basement and threw him into the raging storm of swoleness and masculinity that is:

“Synergy Bodybuilding™”

“Bad Bones”

Another doozy from Anatomy that had me considering dropping out of school to pursue a career in “Anatomical Rap”:

Your bones protect your organs, your bones let you move, your bones make all your blood cells, and your bones support YOU!”

JAYZ.gif

Vice Presidential Campaign Video

After conquering what many called “The Everest of Suburban Mass” I cruised into an unopposed victory come election time.

Fun fact: this was actually filmed by my Mom.

#LaBelle2036

Was the whole purpose of this blog to brag about how cool and edgy I was in high school? No. The whole purpose of this blog was to let people know I am funny, cool, and was edgy back in high school.

Enjoy the day off and let’s have ourselves a week.

NNNN

EDITOR’S NOTE (MUST WATCH):

It came to my attention that I forgot the project that started it all. This video had zero to do with what we were singing/learning about but it was a class favorite.

“Dime Dime Cual!”

Spanish Sophomore Year: