I am noticing some problems common to many, if not most, of the CAS portfolios. These issues need attention since the 1 March deadline will be here before you know it, and I have no intention of being forgiving about this deadline.
1. The reflection questions require specific, clear answers. I am reading reflections that are so broad and general as to be essentially meaningless, and I believe this is a function of students trying too hard to sound profound. Where I ask for new skills, I am looking for specific skills. If you learned a new backhand in tennis or how to write a Java program or how to play a classical guitar piece, then state that clearly. If you became aware of the ethical considerations of your actions when you fought the temptation to pad your service hours or discovered and disciplined a kid for cheating at the MAO invitational, then say that. You do not have to deliver deep insights about the human condition when reflecting on every learning outcome.
2. Dates! Dates are either missing or listed in the most mysterious way possible. It is imperative that I can verify 18 months of continuous activity, or I cannot in good conscience allow you to sit for your IB exams. Date ranges must be stated clearly on all paperwork, especially the table of contents page.
3. Where are your essays? Reflection sheets? Tables of contents? Supervisor evaluations? Will you be doing these all the night before the final deadline? You will find me decidedly unsympathetic when you come to me with incomplete materials and sudden news that the supervisor of a project you did last year has retired and moved to Papua New Guinea and you can’t get a signature. The purpose of this draft is to ensure that all students are basically ready to go by the 1 March deadline and that we will have 49 complete CAS portfolios.
I must be cruel in order to be kind. I want to see all of you complete this program successfully, but you cannot do this with the documentation you’ve given me. Trust me, you cannot do the whole thing at the last minute. By the way, that isn’t a challenge. It is sincere advice from a teacher who cares about your success.