So. My end of year finals were a little different than at the end of first semester. Last semester, I screwed up the Geometry finals and did okay on Algebra. This time I screwed the Algebra and Geometry was better. The scores for Geometry were much lower but unfortunately, I felt that it was a pretty accurate assessment of what they knew. I just hated finals to death. But I know next year will be better because I am going to make my assessments first and plan accordingly. Go me.
Assessment in General
I started out really well doing weekly quizzes and then kind of fell away from that after Christmas. I hated that and I think the kids did too. They liked the structure. By the end of the year I was assigning homework but not grading anything which I fell in love with but by not modeling and explaining that from the beginning, a lot of my students just ended on a bad note instead. I wasn't satisfied with my teaching most of the time so it was even harder to feel like I could judge what they learned. And I never really stopped to think, hey, what do I want them to learn? What is the best way to teach that? Did I assess that in a way that they could show what they've learned? Ahh, but now I know and next year: SBG. Ta-da!
The pits. Sucked. Horrible. Nonexistent. Wimpy. My principal dinged me again and again for lack of procedures. Basically, because I had none. I was a Warm Up Nazi but I never trained them to come in, sit down, and get right to work. I let everyone do what they want and I had favorites. I knew I had favorites so I didn't punish anyone because that would be unfair. I let my students disrespect me and call the shots. I let them set the atmosphere of the room and decide when class ended and began. I did all the things that Harry Wong said not to do and I didn't do enough of what he said to do. Poor Harry. I let my students' behavior drive me to tears on more than one occasion. I made rules I could not enforce. I made the mistakes that people said I would make and I pridefully thought I wouldn't. I was their friend and that was the only reason I could get any cooperation out of them at all. Oh yeah and because I'm cute and funny. Thank God for laughter or else I definitely could not have made it. The sad thing is, none of this has driven me to the point where I am ready to be Ms. Meany and really put my food down. That scares me. If this wasn't bad enough, what will it take? I know they like me. I know when I punish them, they will stop. For a while. I know I only have to make examples out of a few. I know it will suck at the beginning and get better. I know that it is more important that they respect me. What I don't know, is if I can do it.
My AP gave me the great advice of nailing the kid who thinks he's a bad*** and the kid everyone thinks is my favorite. That sends the message the I'm going to enforce rules and hand out consequences to anyone and everyone. I'm so afraid of being inconsistent and unfair that I choose to do nothing instead. This fear is paralyzing me and holding me back.
- CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT!!!!
- Creating opportunities for students to think deeply, process, reflect, share learning
- Using Technology
- Giving students the ability to create
- Developing relationship with students
- Making the classroom an inviting, home-y place where students wanted to be
- Enforcing two nice things for every mean thing
- Daily Warm Ups and Powerpoints
- Taking an active role in leadership in the school
- This one's got me thinking....I wore some super cute outfits. =)
I feel like I am better able to see my own failures. (It helps when other people point them out. Often. Just sayin...) I have direction, which is more than I can say for myself at this time last year. Or anytime previous to May 28, 2010. I have definite procedures I want to put into place: timed warm ups, learning logs/exit slips, standards-based grading, sustained silent reading, reflective writing, game day, stop assigning homework, focus on vocabulary, incorporate ACT prep from the beginning of the year, etc. I think my gift is in being supportive and encouraging. I think I do a good job at treating people based on my relationship with them and not based on how others treat them or what I have heard about them. I think the students know I will go to bat for them and try to make their ideas happen. I am good at explaining things in a simple way without making people feel inferior. I have pretty good question techniques for a first year teacher. I learned to ask them questions about their thinking and process when the answer is right and wrong. (Of course they know they are wrong if you only ask why when they give a wrong answer.)
Abilities that are lacking (but which I can improve): being the authority in the classroom, relinquishing control of where the lesson will go in order to give students more freedom, being consistent, transitions, keeping students on-task, creating activities that engage students at higher levels of thinking, being more organized, backwards planning, unit planning, managing time to keep from getting stressed out, accepting criticism, being professional, and __________________.
Year as a Whole
There were definitely challenging moments: death of a student, death of a staff member, death of a student from neighboring school, loss of 6 students due to expulsion/drop-out, some things I won't mention but won't forget, days where I cried, first semester finals oh my my, incidents with colleagues, and just normal first year mishaps. But overall, I think it was not as hard as everyone tried to scare me into believing. IT WAS NOT AS BAD AS 'THEY' SAID. I did it. And guess what? I even enjoyed it. Actually, I loved it.
I never wanted to quit. Not once. I never thought I was in over my head. I know without a doubt that teaching is my purpose, that this position is my divine appointment, that I was created for this. I've been discouraged, yes. Disappointed, yes. Angry, yes. Frustrated, yes.
But defeated, no.
Year One: You were a beast.
Year Two: I've always preferred even numbers. =)
Let's get it on.