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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Organization 001

In my last post, I mentioned that assessment, in the context that administration discusses it, is a managerial/political activity. The politics of it are beyond my kin at this point, but I do have some simple comments about management or, to be more precise, organization. The emphasis in the preceding sentence is on the word "simple."

First of all, as I have no formal training in the area of management or organization, anything I tell you is bound to be simple. I don't apologize for this because simplicity has its own beauty and, beyond that, simplicity should be one of our goals. There are, perhaps, a number of reasons for this, but the one that is foremost in my mind can be summarized in a single word: cost. Complication ramps up the cost of effort and in particular it takes the focus away from instruction.

Assessment is, of course, a necessary part of teaching, but the primary part of teaching is student learning. With all other variables being held fixed, the more effort a teacher puts into instruction, the more learning will take place. Since assessment is necessary for teaching, this argues for simple assessment processes.

All of this having been said, what are my simple principles of organization. I have two: Lists and Calendars. Break each activity into a list of tasks to be accomplished and put the items from that list onto a calendar. Each item on the list might be broken further down into a sublist and each of those put onto a calendar. It is what we call a recursive process.

Somewhere in here I also need to add that it is good to have some idea what the final product will look like. There will be a list of calendared events. At some of these events data will be taken, at some the data will be discussed, and at some plans will be devised in order to use the data to inform our teaching.

I might add that simplicity in the managerial portion should have a positive impact on the political portion.

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