Progress reports!

October 10, 2008 at 7:22 am 2 comments

This one is mostly for you parents out there.  Anna and I have been looking through your kids’ progress reports.  Well, I’ve been mostly scanning them, I probably missed a few periods and capitals in there, I read fast and was in a bit of a hurry.  Anyway, the progress report is our first official “check” of how students are doing.  Mostly it gives us an opportunity to provide continued encouragement or a heads up if something’s going wrong, BEFORE a grade is assigned.  It’s a snapshot really, or more correctly a snapshot with a correction.  Reading the reports was an education for me yesterday!  Before I started doing the Dean job, I read only my students’ reports or as chair I sometimes read all of the reports of one faculty member.  But now I’m reading the reports of all of the students in the school, so it follows that I’m reading the reports of all the teachers in the school! Some classes have met three times a week for the past five weeks.  Some have met once a week, some like private music lessons haven’t met enough to really inspire a very useful comment at all.

It became clear to me that the report means something different to all of us who are giving them.  Some are mathematically precise, factored numerically down to the decimal.  Others note nuances in attitude, emotion, things we pick up as indicators of what’s going to happen down the road.  This variances are how it should be, I think.  Does a dancer thoughtfully take a correction in class or resist?  How does the visual artist respond to provocation about their conception?  Are they open to critique and challenge?  I’m certainly never “counting” wrong notes in the piano lesson.  I admit I have no idea precisely how many wrong notes are okay, but there certainly is an intuitive place beyond which I say “Hey!” play the right notes please!  Or, you wanna try that again with the notes Bach wrote?

Back in the distant past, like, say, the 90s, we had a much less computerized (which is to say MORE computer-like) grading system.  We gave grades and selected a number that corresponded to the most accurate comment we could find in a long list.  1.  Great job! 2. A pleasure to have in class! My favorite–27.  Attitude of superiority is not conducive to arts training.  Okay, I never used that one, but it was useful to threaten.  We still can, and sometimes need to.  We just can’t speak in code!

Enjoy the reports.

Entry filed under: Music Stuff.

Blown away. Meet the professor.

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Craig  |  October 15, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Doug,

    I continue to enjoy your installments. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    Reply
  • 2. Music Student's Mom  |  October 15, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Just got her progress report last night in the mail. So happy to see that she didn’t get that dreaded “superiority” comment!

    Reply

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