In a job interview, I was once asked how I would respond if my entire class did poorly on a test.
I answered that I would look for another way to teach the topic and re-assess the students, but I also said that this was an unlikely scenario in my classroom. I plan to know if my students are struggling (and do something about it) before a big test rolls around. Test scores rarely surprise me . . . until recently.
I had an all-class fail. The words "all-class" and "fail" are a bit of an exaggeration, but the majority of my students scored below an 80% with lots of failing grades. Ugh.
I am content with how I navigated the aftermath. Now I am just thinking about how to avoid the entire scenario in the future. Here is what I have learned:
1. It is never okay to skip some type of formative assessment. I was in a rush for part of the unit, and I relied way too much on facial expressions and nodding heads and trusted that the students were understanding.
2. Adjust for extra time with wacky schedules. We had a weird week with in-service and parent-teacher conferences right in the middle of this unit. I saw my students one full day and two half days for that entire week. I kept plowing through.
3. The importance of #1 doubles if it is your first time teaching a topic. I rarely teach any topics that I haven't taught before. This unit was 100% from scratch. Planning was a struggle. I had no reference point for knowing which parts would be difficult for students, what common errors would occur, and such.
Finally, what's up with probability?
Is the whole permutation/combination/probability thing just really hard to teach? It seems innocent enough on the surface, but I am now convinced of its underlying evil.
Next time will be better, I'm sure.