I still haven’t hit my stride yet (and, though I’m not quite worried about that… yet… it is a bit vexing), and I’ve been thinking about ways that I can improve my teaching practice (I’m ALWAYS thinking about ways I can improve my teaching practice, but I’ve been thinking more about that lately, as is the case at the start of every new term) Here, then, are ten things I’m working on doing differently this year:
1. I’m intrigued by the whole brain teaching philosophy and am working on incorporating it, albeit slowly, into my classes. I’ve already conditioned the kids to answer “yes?” when I say “class,” and I’ve started to introduce the idea of having the kids teach each other, but I need to work a little more on some of the other cues.
2. I’m having the kids write much more than I ever have, but I’m NOT grading everything they write. I’m trying to reintroduce the idea of finding joy in writing, and I can’t do that if everything they commit to paper is subject to evaluation. I want them to write for the writing, not just for the grade.
3. I’m trying to be more conscious of the timetables for long-term projects, namely the education plans and portfolios. I want to do whatever *I* can to reduce the due date panic that always ensues around these things.
4. I’m being more aware of having lunch with the kids, instead of holing up with the other teachers. This afternoon, I ate with some kids I haven’t sat with since the middle of last year (and one kid whom we’re watching especially closely as he’s coming to us from a bad situation and we’re worried about his transition. So far, so good, though), and it was good to be social with them.
5. I’m trying very hard to work LESS than my students do. I want to give each class an increasing level of responsibility for their own learning, and for marking their own progression (which is part of where that portfolio stuff comes in). I’m still working on how to do that, but it’s something I’m nearly constantly aware of.
6. I’m working on better utilizing the technology I have available. I’m still trying to figure out how to grade on BlackBoard (which is the platform that Local U uses), but I think I’ve got things mostly down for the programs we use at CHS.
7. I desperately want to send HAPPY notes home to parents this year, so I’m marking my calendar to send home positive emails to a rotating bunch of kids every couple of weeks. Parents only expect to hear the negatives; I think that’s a terrible undercurrent to the parent-teacher-student triangle.
8. I’m making better use of my planning time. Of course, not TODAY… today, I’m blogging… but in general.
9. I’m going to be asking my kids to read more than I have before. Once they figure out that they’re not reading in order to pass a test but rather to be able to talk to each other about what they’re reading, my hope is that they’ll see reading as less of a job and more of a way into the world.
10. I’m rediscovering my joy in what I do. I adore this job, I adore these kids, and I’m grateful every day to be able to do what I do. I hope some of that energy rubs off on the kids.