Saturday, February 11, 2012
Week 5 - That's How the Light Gets In
Photo on Flickr by owly9
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen
When asked to provide my motto in Week 1, I shared this quote. It came in handy this week again when I started suffering from some self-doubts. Let me explain.
This was an eventful week for me. The workload was heavier than I had become used to. We had one additional task that we didn't have to do, but how could I skip the opportunity to create my first webquest? It was fun and I can see this type of activity as something that I can use with my students in the future. I am always on the lookout for "interesting homework", something that will get them working on their English from home while having fun at the same time. Webquests and project-based learning might be the answer.
Creating the webquest was an enjoyable activity, but it took me a whole evening and left me with less time to do other things in the course. Add to that the fact that I didn't get any work done on Tuesday, and the anxiety was back. I had written my first forum post on Monday, but when I came back to the forum on Thursday there was a lovely discussion going on and I wasn't participating. Was it too late for me to join?
Join I did, but was my Monday post good enough? To add insult to injury, we had to do some self-assessment on our forum posts this week. I had to go through the Week 1 rubric and give myself a mark.
This goes against what I was taught at school. Good students should always be "modest" and "the teacher knows best". As a teacher, I am constantly trying to teach my students how to be independent learners and in my school we have our students go through the CEF "can do statements" and reflect on what they have learnt. It leads to some nice discussions. That is what I do as a teacher, but as a student I am stuck in the traditional school.
Assessing myself has taught me more about self-assessment than any theory could. It felt awkward. But I have a confession to make: I gave myself the best mark. Why? Because I decided to mark myself the same way I would mark my students. And now I will try to teach my students to be as lenient to themselves as they would be to others. Because I need to undo what the traditional school did to them. I know there is a severe critic inside them and that this critic keeps telling them their work is not up to scratch. I know that, because I have discovered this same severe critic inside me this week. I have fought this critic and I have won an important battle. But she is still inside me.
I have another confession to make: I am a perfectionist. As a teacher I am not strict. Between the stick and the carrot, I always choose the carrot. But when it comes to my own work, I am never quite satisfied. For example, right now I am worried about the fact that I haven't started writing the first draft of my project yet and the time is running out (or so it seems). I have got the final project in my head, more or less, and I have even started implementing some aspects of my project with my students. But I haven't written anything yet.
Why I am telling you all this? Because I need to get rid of these feelings and I need to vent somewhere, and my personal blog seems to be a good place for that. Also, because you might be going through this as well and reading my post might make you feel that you are not alone. Above all, I am doing this because our students might be going through this and, before we can teach them how to use rubrics and do some self-assessment, they need to deal with these feelings first. This is where they will need to get a lot of help and guidance from us.