Monday, April 17, 2006

The End

As I watched my fourth hour fill out their schedules for next year, I felt sadder than usual at the prospect of not being their teacher again (they're Honors, and I don't teach any classes above American Lit). I think I feel more attached to my students this year because I've taken more risks with them and made myself a little more vulnerable than usual. It's been a long road from teaching in Manhattan, where seasoned teachers warn you not to smile or let down your guard in the first three months of class. I think about how unsteady I felt with my sophomores for the first six weeks of first semester, and the thought of starting over with several classes of strangers next year is daunting.

This year my students have seemed more like actual humans to past years certain students might as well have been 2-dimensional cutouts because the only things I knew about them was how often they turned in their homework and how proficient they were in reading and writing. When I look at them this year, however, I can see little pieces of the adults they're becoming. And I'm excited for their futures, even if I no longer play a part.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Goal Tracking

As per Karl's request, now is a good time to examine the progress (or lack thereof) I've made with the goals I set at the end of first semester.
Goal #1: Emphasize that the course revolves around students, not around the teacher or the literature.
Progress: This has always been my teaching philosophy, but I've been more cognizant of it this semester. I model my reading assigments after my Oxford classes, which are entirely reader-centered. As my students read The Great Gatsby, for example, they annotate the text guided by their own curiosity and interest rather than by mass-produced worksheets. We are fishbowling discussions.

Goal #2: Keep class new; maintain a class routine that's comfortable but not predictable.
Progress: This is difficult but necessary at this time of year. Lauren and I are venturing into new territory in our English 10 classes; we're allowing our students to form book groups and analyze a text of literary merit that has been turned into a decent movie. Although the goals of this project are the same as they would be for our more traditional text, A Separate Peace, students will set their own schedules and work in book groups. They will still read for symobls, themes, characterization, setting, etc., but hopefully they will be more invested in their analyses because the books were of their choosing. It's difficult to be designing a unit from scratch in the last six weeks of the semester, but it's far better than forcing my students to analyze a novel that they hate/can't relate to/refuse to read. It's nice to see them get excited about reading.
Goal #3: Prepare students to be innovative and adaptable so that they can partake in the competitive global economy. The world is flat, baby.
Still no clue. Suggestions are welcome.

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