Just like the real craft of writing is in the revision, the real craft of teaching comes in reflection. There are always ways to be better. But unless we reflect on the year, the week, the lesson, we can’t really change, modify, be better.
I do a lot of this reflection in my head. I always say I’m going to put more of it on paper, but I don’t do it as much as I’d like to. I kick myself sometimes thinking what a wealth of material I would have now if I had gotten those reflections down on paper for the past 30+ years.
I have been reading and thinking a lot this summer, but what I am reflecting on today is AP scores. I don’t belabor the scores. I like students to do well because it builds their confidence, and gets them credit sometimes. But I am more concerned with helping them be ready for college reading and writing. (And being confident, compassionate, creative thinkers.) These are not necessarily things that a snapshot test is an adequate reflection of. And though I am confident that the students in my class have the skills they will need to be successful in their college endeavors, the AP scores for my classes were a bit lower than usual this year. I didn’t look at individual scores as much as overall because it feels to me like it’s the overall that’s more a reflection of my work with the students. Our essays were, as they generally are, a bit higher than the “global” average. Not so much on the multiple choice.
Ironically, it was the multiple choice I focused more on this year. Or I thought I did. I used Albert.io to do more multiple choice practice than I usually do. I think that was the main difference in instructional strategies. I’m surprised, and frustrated that I spent that time with Albert that we could have used on something else that might have been more helpful.
So I’m reconfiguring.
I have the basic texts I
want to do in my classes sort of sketched out in my head. But I want to add some instructional tools to my repertoire, and maybe bring back a few tried and true methods I’ve used before.
I’m going to do blogs differently. Each student will make their blog and record their own weekly learning reflections.
I’m going to do some sort of weekly text-based writing, but I’d like to to be more engaging than the Albert questions. Maybe I’ll go back to a choose your own passage to analyze. Maybe I’ll pose a question each week. Years ago I used to do something we called a MSP – Monday Short Paper. It was a short analytical paper due every Monday. Maybe I can go back to something like that, but then add a revision component so they are not all graded.
I read Kate Roberts book on teaching whole class novels, and my takeaway from that is that we tend to spend to long on novels. I have recognized that more than once as I was drowning in the flood of The Grapes of Wrath (which I love), or lost in the woods of The Scarlet Letter,. Roberts presents some strategies for mapping out a novel I’m going to try. If we can be more effective in our reading of longer works, that could help us all be that 1% better.
Of course, this is all subject to more reflection.