The Reflective Teacher

Nope, in this case I’m not talking about my good friend, the very aptly named Reflective Teacher, but myself.  I think teachers that do the same thing year after year without thinking about their practices — and then complaining about kids who don’t cooperate like they did in the good old days — really need to think long and hard about why they are even teaching.  I will be the first to agree that students do have a responsibility, too, and it is difficult for even a motivated teacher to kindle student interest out of nothing.  They do need to bring something to the table.  On the other hand, I think it behooves us as teachers to reflect upon our practices regularly and determine where we are doing well and where we might improve.

It never seems as if I have enough time.  I have a modified block schedule, but if you break it down, I have my students for 200 minutes a week, barring any interruptions in the schedule.  I think I spend too much time doing some things that would be better left outside the class for homework.  We read too much together, for one thing.  While I do think reading together less is something I am improving, I still say I have room for more improvement.  I would need to plot out class discussions in more detail in order to make the best use of that time.  I would also need to feel comfortable raising the bar for my students, which I shouldn’t have a problem with — they’re capable of more, and I know it.  We also have an under-utilized learning center where students can get additional assistance with coursework.

I would also like to be more diligent about working with portfolios.  Organizationally, I find this one hard to maintain.  How better, though, to show a student’s genuine progress or lack thereof in writing?  In that same vein, at least every other essay I would like to provide students with typed feedback.  I only did that once this year.  I can type very fast and give really good feedback, but it is time-consuming.  However, that’s part of my job as an English teacher, isn’t it?

I think students in my class know they have to read the material.  I give frequent quizzes, and students quickly learn that in order to do well, they need to prove to me that they are meeting their reading obligations.  I do see some improvement in the writing of my students, particularly those I’ve had for two years.  I think have some creative ideas, and I am proud of the positive ways in which Web 2.0 have impacted my teaching.

What I would like to do this summer, provided I have time, is to plot out lessons using Jay McTighe’s theories of backward design — looking at the whole unit and what I want to accomplish — rather than pick and choose assignments.  I would like more cohesion in my class.  I would like to be at the beginning of May, next year, and feel better about how much I accomplished in the classroom and out.

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One thought on “The Reflective Teacher

  1. What a great post! As a complete newbie to the profession, it's ideas like these that get my brain thinking about what I want to accomplish as a teacher. These are things I'll definitely be thinking about before I begin my job next year (wherever that happens to be), and hopefully I'll come up with answers and plans that lead to a successful classroom–for me and my students. :-D

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