Friday, May 18, 2012

Reflections on My Sixth Year

In exactly one week, I will finish my sixth year of teaching. In some ways this has been a great year; in some, the worst ever. I've had to deal with seizures (my own!) seventy-two hour EEGs, and shoulder surgery. I've been more scatterbrained than I ever remember being in my life. I've dealt with reluctant learners, one of whom was my own child. I've occasionally felt like I was doing a great job teaching and often felt like I was the worst teacher in the world.

I think it's probably time for a major overhaul of my curriculum to get me out of my doldrums. We recently read Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher for the CUWP book group, and it really got me thinking about what I'm having my students write and why. I loved what Kelly said in the book about a fantasy meeting with a former student years from now:
"Excitedly, she blurts out: 'Oh, it is so good to see you! I was hoping to run into you some day so that I can tell you that I am still writing essays that analyze the author's use of tone. I  keep a Tone Journal at home, and I apply that skill you taught me twenty years ago in the tenth grade to everything I read today! Let's have lunch some day so I can share all the essays I have written recognizing the author's tone found in all the books I have read since high school graduation."
Instead, he says he'd rather hear about the blog they're writing, or the letter they've sent to every member of congress about some issue.

Anyway, I am going to redo my curriculum so that we're doing a lot more real world writing. For example, this year I had my students write sonnets. Dumb idea. It was painful for them to do and painful for me to read.

One of my goals for this summer (and hopefully to continue through the school year next year) is to read and USE one professional book a month. Actually, maybe I'll try for two a month over the summer. I have quite a few that look like they'd be very helpful if I actually read them. Ha.

Anyway, I have one more week with this particular crop of kids, and I hope they've taken away at least one useful thing from my class this year. They did do spectacularly well on their end of level tests, and that seems to be all that our school really worries about as far as whether I'm a good teacher or not. For myself, I'd like to think the bar is a bit higher.

1 comment:

Deb Day said...

I'm using Gallagher's book as a model while I redo my Creative Writing curriculum. I like the fact that it addresses writing students will do once they leave school in a way that will give them choice. His ideas and activities make sense to me. I hope they will for my students