Before I get into my post, I’ll share a few happening in Room 128 this week. First – senioritis has set it. Upon returning to school after a N̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶ ̶C̶h̶a̶m̶p̶i̶o̶n̶s̶h̶i̶p̶ ̶ “snow” day, I asked my senior classes if they were making good progress with a particular assignment; the class burst out into laughter. And so it goes with second-semester seniors. While celebrating a birthday in class today, someone said, “Congrats on being 18; you can now be tried as an adult, not a juvy.” Look for my class on Teens Say The Darndest Things. They’re good kids and no one is being tried for anything.
This week’s birthdays –
And the college letters are going up – University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, University of Wyoming
And now for the blog –
New Year’s Resolutions. Clearly, I am not resolving to be more organized or manage my time better; therefore, this New Year’s resolution post is written and posted the second week of January. Let’s just say I spent the first week of the year reflecting and goal setting or I could just say the truth and admit to binge reading and watching college football but I digress. I really like the word digress – another digression.
I’m not a big goal setter or planner by nature, so New Year’s resolutions aren’t really something I put a lot of stock in. I do, however, love the idea of finishing out a calendar year with reflection and making adjustments based on what worked or didn’t work the past year. For teachers, New Year resolutions are more like checkpoints halfway through the year, paying attention to what went well the first semester and what needs to be adjusted for the remainder of the year. Here’s what I will be committed to for the remainder of the year:
Less emphasis on grades, more emphasis on feedback
I am in a district that requires grades, but I love the whole non-grades movement in education today. Students tend to focus on what to do to get a grade rather than learning with grades can sucking the life out of lessons and classrooms. I have been experimenting with ways to keep the focus more on learning by not grading everything, offering feedback instead of a grade, or have conversations rather than a written grade and want to continue to figure out how to keep students motivated to learn rather than just get a grade.
Less giving information, more creating opportunities for discovery
I am not a lecturer – that has never been my style. But I still need to make gains in how I lead my students to discover information and draw conclusions on their own. One of the areas I would like to grow in is how to teach students to self-question more effectively; I usually end up asking the questions instead of teaching them how to come up with questions for learning. I would also like to plan more activities that help students draw conclusions on and find information on their own then make meaning of it. I’ve got work to do in this area.
Less whole class novels, more choice reading
I started choice reading this time last year in my classes and wish I had more time for it. My general level classes have choice reading daily. My AP classes were hit or miss (I always feel so pressed for time in there). I want to continue to tweak choice reading by figuring out how to keep up with what students are reading without using reading logs because then it doesn’t feel like choice reading. I have extremely reluctant readers – self-proclaimed “I have never read a book and am proud of it” kids; my goal is to get high-interest books and provide low stakes assessments to nudge them along in their reading journey. (I hit up Thriftbooks this week, and a parent donated a huge box of books. I want my students surrounded by books in my class).
Less talking, more listening
I want to work on being more relational with my students. I typically start the year strong in this area but become task driven along the way and start checking things off my (metaphorical) list more frantically as the year goes on. I need to be a better listener. What do students fear? What excited them? What do they like about school? Who are their friends? The more I listen, the more I learn about them and the better I can help – not just academically but personally because I am teaching more than Chaucer and commas (if that were the case I would come home in tears nightly).
So here’s to 2018 – a year of continued learning, growth, and influencing the next generation. What are you committed to this year?