Nope, in this case I’m not talking about my good friend, the very aptly named Reflective Teacher, but myself.Â 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.Â 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.Â They do need to bring something to the table.Â 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.Â 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.Â I think I spend too much time doing some things that would be better left outside the class for homework.Â We read too much together, for one thing.Â While I do think reading together less is something I am improving, I still say I have room for more improvement.Â I would need to plot out class discussions in more detail in order to make the best use of that time.Â 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.Â 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.Â Organizationally, I find this one hard to maintain.Â How better, though, to show a student’s genuine progress or lack thereof in writing?Â In that same vein, at least every other essay I would like to provide students with typed feedback.Â I only did that once this year.Â I can type very fast and give really good feedback, but it is time-consuming.Â 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.Â 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.Â I do see some improvement in the writing of my students, particularly those I’ve had for two years.Â 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.Â I would like more cohesion in my class.Â 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.