Friday, September 03, 2010

Reality Check for the Teacher

This week, I asked my class to reflect on how the first three weeks have gone for them and to set some goals for the rest of the semester. The students submitted their answers to my questions in letter form- it is simply a way to easily and privately communicate to me what’s going on in their lives. The questions they were to answer were (some of these were ones I have used before; others were added courtesy of Karl Fisch):

Looking back at our first couple of weeks in English 9 or English 9 Honors, how are you feeling? What’s going well or you are excited about? What’s challenging or are you concerned about? Let me know how I can help. Please answer in complete, thoughtful sentences.Then I want you to set three goals for yourself for this semester.
· One goal specifically related to English 9 or English 9 Honors
· One goal related to AHS in general (can be related to classwork, sports, activities or something else at AHS)
· One goal outside of AHS.
Make these goals fairly specific, not just “I want to get a good grade.” For each one, answer with what, why and how – what is your goal, why is it your goal, and how will you accomplish it. Also, let me know how I can help you achieve your goals.

I thought it would be meaningful for my students to answer my own questions.

So here goes:

I am feeling ok. Physically, I am feeling good, but tired. I always forget every school year how exhausting teaching is. I get up every morning about 4:30 am just to exercise and by the time the school day is over, I am ready for bed. But, we, my husband Jeff and I, are usually off carting one of our kids to some activity, or running (yes, literally running) home to get them started on their own homework. I feel much more in the swing of things after getting week three under my belt.

I am really excited about my classes. I was worried after the first couple of weeks regarding my all boys class. Last year, they were probably my favorite, and I wasn’t sure if my new set of young men could go above and beyond as last year’s group did. But here on week three, we are hitting a new stride. They are finally getting to understand high school is different, expectations are higher, and you have to turn in your work. There are no easy assignments.

With my Honors classes, we are finally getting started with reading Macbeth. This is always a tenuous time because Maura and I don’t teach them Macbeth-we expect them to teach one another. It is so challenging watching them sit there and not ask ANY questions of one another. I mean they are reading one of the most challenging of Shakespeare's texts, their teacher is not spoon feeding them an interpretation, and they have NO QUESTIONS? HOW CAN THAT BE? However, period 5 today did a fantastic job dissecting their reading, and I enjoyed listening to the class help one another figure things out. Hopefully, this gets them started on a good trend. I am hoping to see them use the blog to help one another understand, but as classes in the past have done, sometimes it takes the first quiz for them to see how important asking questions can be. Failing a detailed quiz often motivates them to ask questions of one another in class and on the blog.

Challenges and concern continue to be what I have talked about before: are the kids going to catch on, are they going to get their work turned in, are they going to ask good thinking questions, are they going to take charge of their learning, are they going to push themselves to do more and be more, and of course, are they going to change the world?

My goals are a little different from the kids. I blogged before about my goals for the year, but as I was talking with the kids, I wanted to set another goal that I would see each one of them in one of their activities this year. They simply just have to let me know what game/activity/ performance they want me to come to. I used to do this a few years ago BK-before kids- but thinking out loud here, I know how much my own kids love coming to AHS activities, it is just me now making time to get them over here.

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