Even though Tuesday was cold-cold-cold, and even though several Latin Family members were sick and some others just stayed home (“it’s a short day, so we won’t be doing anything!”), we ended up being both efficient and effective in our relatively short time together. The Latin I classes did their last-ever Vocabulary Self-Check, made their last-ever Vocabulary Reflection and Organizer, and spent most of their time working on scenarios and scripts for the Major Assessment products. We’ll probably be filming on Friday, at this rate, and watching the videos at the end of the Final Exam periods next week, after everyone is finished with that process. Almost all high-school courses in These Parts now have state-created final exams, but World Languages, The Arts, and Healthful Living courses don’t. So we’ll be doing an individual written task, using something like an Integrated Performance Assessment that – if Certain Powers are able to enforce their wills – will eventually be used at all schools in the Local School District, and then we’ll do a collaborative task of analyzing grammatical elements, constructing Latin sentences, and making a giant graphic organizer that shows comparisons and contrasts between Roman and American cultural products, practices, and perspectives. And at some point – probably starting on Friday with the particularly efficient groups – we’ll be doing our traditional individual oral response to check one last time on Presentational Speaking and Interpretive Reading.
My goal for these last few days of the semester is for us to be as efficient and effective as possible. And efficiency and effectiveness are very different things! At least the way I define them now, efficiency has to do with “doing things right” while effectiveness has to do with “doing right things.” In other words, efficiency has to do with management, with implementing and improving the processes and plans you already have in place, while effectiveness is a function of leadership, of making good plans and changing them, when necessary, to make them better.
E, who’s been efficiently and effectively catching up on some missing assignments, turned in one of her beautiful illustrated story summaries today – and with it she had a suggestion for a potentially cool idea. “What if,” she asked, “we developed a Roman Senate next semester, and we met and discussed things, and did it all in Latin?”
E, that wasn’t just a potentially cool idea – it was a brilliant idea! And it’s funny, because barely eighteen hours earlier, in the first-ever #WLChatNC on Twitter, I publicly declared a teaching resolution for 2014:
Live Action Role Play fully in L2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_action_role-playing_game …
#WLChatNC – tried one experiment last fall, went well, got busy, etc 😦
And that experiment, which I described in some detail a few months ago, was highly effective and highly engaging … but then, somehow, I wasn’t efficient at keeping the momentum going. We fell into a comfortable – and reasonably efficient – pattern, but were we as effective as we could have been if we’d included an Embodied Role Play at the end of every unit, or at least every reporting period?
Would that have kept B, B, U, B, D, and the others more focused, more involved? Or would it actually have been less effective, less efficient than what we ended up doing? Interesting questions to ponder, but in the end, what happened is what happened. We can’t change that – and honestly I don’t want to; I didn’t have the time and energy and enthusiasm I would have needed to make Embodied Role Plays a consistent reality in the fall. But as winter advances into spring, I’m hoping the time, energy, and enthusiasm will appear.
The Latin I classes will mostly be working on their Major Assessment products again today, but we’ll also do an efficient and effective review of the grammatical concepts we’ve been working on consistently. And the upper-level class, though we have a lot of work to do on our Major Assessments, will do an efficient and effective practice for that Integrated Performance Assessment next week, using a similar response form with a different text. In a “perfect” world, all of our seniors would have read – and believed – the paragraph in the student handbook about how seniors, in courses without state-provided exams, can be exempt from their “teacher-made” final if they maintain a Certain Average … but this isn’t a “perfect” world, and many of my seniors are so used to the “bad and lazy” label that they wouldn’t have believed they could maintain that Certain Average even if they’d remembered what it was. It strikes me that the not-so-successful policy, though well-intentioned, is a great example of how factory-school thinking can lead to inefficient and ineffective results. Publish the policy, because publishing it makes it real … except students and parents, by the time they reach high school, are all too aware that published policies get changed and amended all the time. Don’t bother to review the policy, because there’s “so much to cover” and “they should remember it.” Bring it up at a meeting, a week or two before the exam period, fully expecting Powers That Be to change it – and then, as Ms. X and Mr. Y would if they could (except they have state-created exams, so they can’t), use it as a club: “But you knew about that, you bad, lazy child! It was in the student handbook the whole time!”
In a joyful learning community, you can avoid some of that inefficiency and ineffectiveness because the lines of communication are open. And when there’s a miscommunication or a misunderstanding, that can turn into an opportunity for more learning, for deeper community, for a whole new level of understanding. On this cold morning, that seems both warm and hopeful.
I wonder what other new discoveries, what new forms of efficiency and effectiveness, await us in the days to come!