Sunday, February 1, 2015


It's Superbowl Day.  As every good teacher knows, you can't live in the moment -- so I'm already planning for tomorrow. 

 Let's think about the possibilities for tomorrow for a minute.  Let's make a K-W-L Chart:

What Do We Know?                      What Do We Want to Know?                   What Did We Learn?
Superbowl past bedtime=               How miserable will attendance be?        yet to be discovered
poor attendance and tired kids

Storm Predicted                             Delay or Snow Day                                   yet to be discovered

Ground Hog Day will result          Why anyone hangs hopes on this             will never understand
in most of the weather coverage
being attributed to a rodent tomorrow

Projected Forecasting

By now, you're probably wondering about this rant, and what it might possibly have to do with education.  It's no secret that the world of meteorology has been slammed pretty heavily recently -- especially in light of last Monday's predicted epic storm that was expected to cover most of the east coast.   The hype started on Friday, teachers dragged home all sorts of extra bags filled with work that could be completed at home, expecting Snowmageddon.

A few flakes fell, the wind blew, and, well, that was pretty much it for most of the prediction.  Even New England, which had prepared for YARDS of snow instead of feet, felt a bit cheated.  When it was all over, National Weather Service Meteorologist, Gary Szatkowski, apologized, on Twitter, for the inaccurate forecast.

Without waxing too politically, I wonder how well-received an inaccurate prediction of student success would be received by society if educators' success were off these days.   Much like meteorologists watching the EURO model, using the Partial Differential Equations, and a toolbox of other diagnostic tools, educators are constantly gathering data to predict what society has now valued as academic success.  (AKA, Proficient or Advanced on the PSSA or Keystone exams, for those of us in Pennsylvania).

This year, the success of my students on a single goal represents more than a quarter of my total evaluation.  Let's think about that for a second.  My Student Learning Objective (SLO) means that if I don't get it right on this one point, I am, almost certainly, going to wind up with an annual evaluation recommending interventions by my administration to improve my teaching within the next two years, or that they fire me for my ineffectiveness, at the end of that time.  Is it any wonder why teachers pray for accuracy on the part of meteorologists?  A day to breathe, to evaluate the SLO data, and make the necessary adjustments to ensure success.  Lord knows that if every teacher were to tweet apologies in June, we'd surely crash Twitter.

So tonight, while watching the Superbowl, or, more likely,  just the commercials, teachers will be watching the updated EURO models with the meteorologists trying to guess the likelihood of a 2 hour delay, and adjusting lessons in the potentially-shortened day.  Because come tomorrow, there's an accountability, a demand for success, no matter how many wings the kids have consumed, or how little sleep they've gotten, celebrating the big game the night before.

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