Wednesday, November 09, 2016

We're the College Board and We're Here to Help

I'm sitting in a meeting led by some guy who works for College Board. As I look around me I see almost no one paying attention. One guy keeps asking questions but I can't hear them. The guy answers each and every one of the guy's questions, but I have no idea what they are and no idea what the answers mean. Sometimes the guy repeats the questions, all from one guy, but I still have no idea what he's talking about.

One and only one other person asks one question. The woman in front of me asks about the questions, a bunch of which are ambiguous. He suggests the students are jerks for not giving the answers that College Board wants. The guy starts talking about how teachers ask questions differently than standardized tests do, and implies that we need to teach students to answer ambiguous questions the way College Board thinks they should.

This leaves us sitting there wondering why he just showed us a bunch of questions that are such crap none of us would use them. He can blame the students, but the fact is that they are giving A, B, C, D questions. If they actually want to encourage thought or discussion, they would have to examine student thought rather than contending there is only one answer.  So despite all his lip service to Common Core and other such nonsense, the all-knowing and all-seeing rep hasn't got time to plod through, you know, student ideas, the ones we lowly teachers are directed to elicit.

There's also then, the dichotomy between what he says and what he means. Really, it's not even that. It's between what he says and what else he says. Several times he alludes to how you may wish to teach this or that in your class. Later, he says it would hurt his soul to think you were doing test prep. Of course the thing is, if test prep is so soul-crushing, why would you make it your life's work to work for a test-prep company? I mean, that's just me.

I'd rather teach kids and sell them nothing but self-improvement via better use of English. Regardless, if I addressed kids the way this guy addressed us, with no regard whatsoever whether anyone were interested or even listening, I'd surely be rated ineffective. If I did it two years in a row, I'd be on the proverbial one-way train to Palookaville.  Maybe thinking like that is why so many colleges are dropping the SAT requirement. Maybe they've discovered that teacher grades are a better predictor of college readiness than a single, poorly-written test that gets shot through some computer that knows the kid as well as Marvin the Martian would.

In fact, I think Marvin the Martian could do better PD than the one we sat through yesterday. We could just get a video of an old cartoon and show it to staff. I'm absolutely sure they'd be more receptive and responsive.

The only good thing is he asked whether it was time yet, without even thinking I uttered, "It's time," and he let us all go. I have no idea whether it was time or not, but I'm grateful for tedious speakers who have no idea when they're supposed to stop yet do so at the first suggestion. In fact a lot of people thanked me. I just wonder why everybody didn't say it in unison.
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