Today is the first day of our spring semester (I know it’s like two weeks later than everyone else) and I, like every other teacher I know, have been doing some reflecting on my first semester. I am particularly thinking of the class I teach for struggling writers. It is a semester-long class.
1. I followed the advice of a colleague who claimed that the training I attended last summer for a particular curriculum would enlighten me and help me see massive growth in my test scores. Granted, my test scores are pretty good, I really have no complaints, but who doesn’t want a boost. So I took the training and decided to follow the grammar model they advocated.
Let’s just say after the assessments I conducted, I will be going back to what I know works. I feel duped and stupid for following the band wagon. The truth is following and examining mentor texts works.
The truth of the matter is that I got star struck and insecure, quite frankly. I wanted to have the best scores. I want growth in my students. I want them to be successful and to feel their growth. I am tired of my struggling students being beat down by a system that does not serve them. So I got insecure and I tried it.
I will fix that this semester. No more canned curriculum…I will do what I know works.
2. Having my students blog and set one goal for their writing on each blog they make is the best decision I have made as a teacher. I will get to the work sooner this semester (I have new students in my lab class) because once they got rolling with their writing, they were on fire and learning skills all over the place.
3. I will continue to have students find their own blogging mentors. This not only gave them buy-in for reading like a writer, but it helped them think about topics to write about. It helped them find a way to make the blogs work for them.
4. Having said this, I would like to examine bloggers together as a class as well. I want to get better at that piece: the balance of their own mentor texts and those that I can provide to help them see a different way to write.
5. I will focus more on what a blog is, how it is structured, and what makes it different than a straight web site more fully at the beginning.
6. Share goals on G+ with an example from a text was also a great decision. Students were able to see what everyone was working on and to see how they envisioned their writing. Some great conversations took place online about the craft of writing as a result of our community sharing.
In short, I would be super excited to be in this class. To write about whatever I want to write about would be overwhelming and awesome at the same time. I am excited to see what this group brings with them.