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Looking ahead or playing catch-up?

I started this two days ago... then didn't finish because I was preparing for a meeting Friday, and then at the meeting Friday... But that's not an excuse.  It's just a symptom that I am not yet in the habit of posting... and I'm not always sure what to write about.

Because our school year is divided into semesters, we have the opportunity to start fresh in February.  As an IB school, however, some of our teachers have full-year, two-credit courses that run from September until the May examination period. As the DP coordinator at an IB school, I teach one of these classes, plus an extra class in semester one.  The rest of my timetable is dedicated to the administration of the IB diploma program... a daunting task that some schools grant full time (i.e. no teaching periods) release for, while others may not have time release at all.
With exams starting next week, I will soon say goodbye to my grade 11 students (though I will likely have them for grade 12 next year) and my current grade 12's continue with me until the end of April.

I think my plan with this post, originally, was to think about what the upcoming semester will look like, as I work with my grade 12 IB students as we finish the course and prepare for the IB exams in May.  Not being the one who writes the exam means that all I can do is to try and ensure that they have the background knowledge (IB Biology Guide) and the skills to answer any style of exam question that is asked.  As an examiner myself, I can give them guidance on what the examiners are looking for, and offer suggestions about how to prepare for the three papers they will write.  But this heavy focus on a standardised test - which is really what the IB and AP exams are - means students have less patience for non-traditional, student-centred activities.  They really just want me to "teach" them the content.

Are they lazy? Are they worried they'll miss something if I don't just hand them everything on a silver platter?  Classes in other subject areas are less teacher-driven, which I see when I visit teachers and students as part of my role as the program coordinator, but in Sciences, unless it's a lab day, I usually see at teacher at the front of the room, with a slideshow on-screen or notes on the whiteboard.  I'm not being critical of them, by the way, just making an observation.


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