Dropping Balls

Dropped the ballI now know why I didn’t have to do science fair projects in high school.

Man it has been a mess.

I had the best of intentions. I teach AP Biology, so obviously all of my students should do a science fair project. All 75 of them… (Actually our department decided in a meeting that all AP students had to do it. One AP teacher disregarded this meeting. I hadn’t realized that was an option…)

I gave the students the guidelines. The forms they needed were available online. I gave them assignments to keep them on track.

“Go read, get the forms you need for your project, and submit them to the website.”

Yeah, right. As much as I want to get these students to be self-sufficient learners and individuals, they are are still high school students.

Most haven’t done any forms. Some have been good and did submit their forms. But, when they asked me, “Who needs to sign off on this?” I told them I would find out. Then I would forget. Then I’d finally find out weeks later.

Some were supposed to be signed off on by people before they started sampling. Guess what? Not so much…

So it has gone.

Then the idea of deadlines was vague. We received a list of dates, some of which were “guidelines” to use in class. Some were actual deadlines. Since this has been the first time I’ve done this, one seems much like the other, yet I haven’t been quite sure when anything really needs to be signed off on or done. When I’ve asked, I often haven’t received clear answers.

So, this whole thing has been a big mess for me. And I’m freaking out about it, because we had a very short meeting that triggered a lot of unanswered questions today. I’m freaking out, because I’m not sure I can fix the problems and an actual deadline is looming.

Next year, I’ll be so much better prepared. This year, I’ve felt way in over my head. I’ve paused to ask questions, but I’ve been getting the run around. Or I’ve been too busy to quickly pursue the questions that have come up. There’s no quick, easy place to go to get questions answered!

I hope that I haven’t messed up science fair for students who really want to go and have good projects. I don’t want to be the one to hold my students back. … Ever.

But I’m sitting here feeling very anxious about this mess. I’m sitting here feeling very human. I’ve been in way over my head this semester, and I dropped the ball on science fair… I’m not perfect, and I’m going to make mistakes. But making mistakes still makes me feel very vulnerable.

Next year I’ll have a better tracking method for the paperwork (or I’ll just have a tracking method, period). This year, I’ll have to live with my mistakes. My students may have to live with my mistakes as well.

I guess I’ll be teaching them something with that lesson too…

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