Commentary: Grading NewHartfordPlus by “Mrs. Moore”
As I’ve been covering more Board of Ed meetings recently, I’ve found myself slipping back into my “teacher mode,” something which all teachers, whether currently teaching or ex-teachers, as I am, will recognize: I find myself grading everything I report on, or don’t report on, or wish I had the time to report on. These grades are recorded in my mental gradebook, a fun game I play while I drive to work, or to my next news assignment for NewHartfordPlus, or as I listen to a carefully-prepared speech delivered by a resident on a topic that he or she feels passionate about. As any good teacher, I have a rubric in mind and carefully assess each important aspect of an assigned topic before totalling up the parts to reach a final grade. This morning, as I rest from an 18-hour work day on Thursday and catch my breath before another 18-hour work day on Saturday, I thought it would be fun to share one of my grading games in writing ~ “a busman’s holiday” for sure, but hey, as long as I’m having fun, it’s not illegal and I don’t get rapped on the knuckles too many times! Â So here goes:
Topic: News Reporting on NewHartfordPlus:
- Is NewHartfordPlus providing coverage of the “news and events of New Hartford”?
Evaluation: A look at the range of news coverage included in the Latest Articles Â section on the front page shows the following articles: Daily Calendar (aÂ calendar of meetings, social events, aÂ snippet of news reported in the grapevine; aÂ report on the New Hartford Schools budget presentation to the Board of Finance; aÂ press release from a local nonprofit, Community Connections about the new 2010 Telephone Directory recently mailed out to residents; aÂ report on how the different department heads and team leaders at Town Hall saw their budgetary needs for the coming fiscal year; aÂ News Updates on tax sale warrants issued by the town to delinquent taxpayers, plus a news update on a free dental clinic in Middletown (NOT local, but of interest to residents who might need the free dental care).
- Range of news covered: Excellent range for a three-day period: Grade:Â 95 (“A”)
- Accuracy of news covered: Readers are always ready to correct and clarify our news coverage, and weÂ always step up and make those corrections. Egg on my face? Â Great! Â It means someone who knew better was inspired to share their knowledge with our readership! Â Grade: Â 95% (“A”).
Wow! With a 100% average and only one more empty box left to fill in the rubric, I’m feeling pretty confident at acing this subject. Â But wait: ImagineÂ your sternest teacher looking up as she lays her red grading pen and frowning sternly your way as she asks: “What happened to the last criterion, Timeliness?”
- Timeliness: The facts don’t look good: The last report, which is yet unfinished, is of a Board of Finance meeting that was held this past Tuesday. And where’s the Regional #7 Board of Ed meeting report held on Wednesday night? And the Board of Selectmen meeting report held last night? Grade: 25% (“F!”) for the video clips of the Board of Finance meeting, which is still unfinished!
The grade: 95 + 95 + 25 = 215 divided by 3 =Â 72 (“C-“).
And that’s the grade that Maria and Bob Moore of NewHartfordPlus would receive from “Mrs. Moore.” : “-C” NOT written in red ink ~ I never liked red for grading ~ with a note “Please see me at the end of class!”
When I was teaching, this is where my teaching really started, with that all-important note: Â ”Please see me at the end of class!” Because once the standardized test score has been calculated, the good teachers sit down with their students and try to figure out what happened with that last criterion and strategize together on how to correct it.
In this case what happened is simple: Bob and I both work at our paying jobs so that we can afford to keep on living in our old, rambling farmhouse in New Hartford. Our work commitments are 1.5 FTEs (Full Time Equivalents, not Employees!), leaving only 0.5 FTE (20 hours per week) for NewHartfordPlus. For a 7-day per week operation, that’s 3 hours per day which doesn’t go very far, as anyone who’s employed a part-timer ~ or as those of us who work part-time ~ know.
As a teacher, I’d discuss how over-extended my student is and offer some possible solutions: Â Cut down on the news coverage, or increase the time you can put into covering the wide range of news you now try to cover. “Let me see what I can do!” Is the sheepish answer I give myself as I close my mental gradebook, grab my reporter’s notebook and head down to Town Hall which will be closing soon at 12.
A Note To You, Our Reader: With an average of over 1,000 visits per day so far this month, and from the positive comments we receive from you about our news coverage on NewHartfordPlus ~ despite our “C-” grade from “Mrs. Moore,” we’d like to ask you to consider contributing financially to NewHartfordPlus so that we may continue to provide you with the same range and accuracy of reporting that you enjoy, while Â striving to improve our timeliness. Â So far today, we’ve already worked 3 hours on NewHartfordPlus, not counting the above commentary, and our workday is just beginning!
Please check out: OurÂ Stakeholders section to see the many ways you can become a Stakeholder in NewHartfordPlus. Â We welcome the support of individuals, non-profit organizations and businesses as we strive to maintain our news coverage on NewHartfordPlus free and accessible to all!