On this eve of yet another glorious year of teaching, I want to set three goals for myself to improve my work. After reflecting on what my strengths and weaknesses are, and what I want to achieve, I’ve settled on these basics:
1. More time for independent readings in class. Each quarter will start with a good book chosen by each student from my lists, and I’ll set aside a couple of class days to read and take notes and/or fill out a log. After that, they might bring in their own stuff for a few more days of reading here and there. We read plenty in my classes, but it’s usually from the textbook, with most of their other reading being done on their own. That doesn’t cut it. This will pack in more quantity of reading, which kids desperately need.
2. Speaking of desperate needs, we’ll do more short, spontaneous compositions with instant editing and feedback. I always want to do more of this, but never get around to it, and it’s so essential. Quick writing workshops with paragraph-or-two compositions that they’ll peer edit / I’ll edit and they revise in another quick draft, all in one day. This will benefit their mechanics better than enything else I can think of. This must be done every other week, at least.
3. Finally, I’ll be nicer. Not in class, I mean, where if anything I should be more strict and where my ability to act enthusiastic when “on stage” serves me well, but outside of class, when kids come in for help or make up work, or when I see kids outside of school. As it is, my painfully shy, introverted side takes over there and I tend to mumble dismissive one liners and look the other way. As much as I hate to admit it, a more engaging personality from me does improve classroom performance for them, so here’s one to work on…