This series began with an overview of the Outside Resources section of the Professional Portfolio developed by each Teacher Assistant. In the second post, Brock, one of our TAs, shared his Outside Resources entry, and I admitted that I evaluated it incorrectly. The purpose of this, the final post in the series, is to explain what led to my error in evaluation and how the exit interview helped me to correct my misconception.
My original evaluation of Brock's work was Progressing. Here is how this level is described in the rubric: "The candidate collects outside resources but they are not related to the mathematics of the unit." Typically, TAs include an article/activity from NCTM that directly relates to the mathematical content of their unit. This is what I expected - my bias.
When I read Brock's entry, I was surprised to find that he had included the NCTM Process Standards and Cambourne's Conditions of Learning as his Outside Resources. How did this relate to the mathematics found in his polynomial unit? I wrote a note reminding me to ask Brock about his choices and recorded "Progressing" in my NCATE spreadsheet.
About halfway through the exit interview, I questioned Brock about his Outside Resources. He responded that he thought the Process Standards and Conditions were important frameworks that should be implemented everyday in every lesson. My jaw dropped. How could I have missed this so completely? I had fallen into the old trap of judging instead of evaluating.
Based on my prior experiences with the portfolios, I was expecting TAs to produce a particular product - activities that would address some math content. Brock's entry was missing this product and so it was wrong. I had completely forgotten the fact that we had spent the semester discussing how the processes are as important as the content when it comes to math. I had completely forgotten to read Brock's entry with an open mind while using the questions from the Teaching-Learning Cycle to support my evaluation.
Fortunately, the exit interview provided me with the opportunity to be aware of my mistake, accept it, and make the necessary adjustment. Brock's entry was actually "Distinguished" given my new insight. He had gone beyond selecting a single activity that would enhance one topic in his unit. The Outside Resources he collected would impact every lesson, every day, regardless of what or who he was teaching. In his own words: "Including them in this portfolio is a way for me to have a constant reminder of them."
Sorry, Brock. Next time, I will be more open to alternative ideas and stick to our evaluation framework. Next time, I'll do it better.
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