Well-I can’t come up with any excuses now not to respond in a timely fashion to posts!

The end of the first semester and the beginning of second semester comes so fast that you hardly have time to breathe.

Here are some things I’m happy about:

1) I’m really happy with the connection that I made with my ENG 3CI class.  They were all well behaved students, and they responded well with the activities we did in class. We have spent a lot of time discussing that bond that needs to be created with the students in order for them to respond well.  Although more work could have been completed (I think that’s just the nature of the beast), they certainly tried hard in class.

2) I’m really happy that I have been able to find my niche of home life and school life.  Now that I’m in my fifth year of teaching, I feel like I can relax a little bit and be confident in my abilities.  It wasn’t that long ago that I would freak out and work like crazy at home until I fell asleep with a book in my hand and the computer on still planning lessons.  Being able to relax at home has certainly made me a happier person all around. I am able to enjoy married life and family life.  I used to feel guilty if I went home and just focused on home life rather than school.  However, I have realized that all my colleagues have a home life. In fact, no one would ever sneer at the fact that you spent your evening with family rather than marking. Everyone is so understanding and trusting that you are competent and will get your own stuff done in your own time.

3) I too am happy at how I spent my prep time. I think this is the most amout of work that I have been able to accomplish in my prep time. I feel like I have found a way to be extremely efficient and effective with my lesson planning and my time management. It certainly is a lot nicer to complete everything at school rather than take it home 😉

Things I could be happier about

1) Well, I too have been neglecting our mentorship relationship. I guess I don’t really think about it because if I have a question, I just ask you and that’s that. 

2) I definately could be happier about the learning cycle.  I feel like I need a lot more time to go through all of my lessons and try to encorporate the learning cycle into it. I believe I already do go through the learning cycle with my  lessons-I just don’t necessarily call them the same things (ie. Rationale). I was glad for our dept. time together to get things organized, but I feel I need more time to look things over.

Well mentor-it looks like this mentorship will be put on hold until next year when I can finish up all workshops and NTIP requirements. Even though you haven’t felt like you’ve been doing a good job, y0u have been coming to my aid with all that I needed help with. You always seem to have the right answer and expert advice on how to clear up any situation that I may have come across!

Even though I’m not at school-can we still discuss things like the use of learning goals, learning cycles and how to continue to make students successful as well as ourselves in our own career?!

Mirror, Mirror

Well, dear Protege, I’ve certainly been remiss lately–but then again, so have you 🙂 Life has a habit of getting in the way of our best intentions, but as promised, here is a new blog entry. The title is apt because this will be a reflection upon the last semester; something that I still do even after almost 20 years of teaching. I’ve divided it into “Things I’m Happy About” and “Things I Could Be Happier About”.

“Things I’m Happy About”
1) I’m really happy about the fact that I finalized my assesment and evaluation philosophy and put it into action. You know what I’m talking about, of course–what I like to call “Formative until Level 4”. Allowing my students to use feedback to revise and improve their assignments, no matter how big or small, until they reached level 4, has been one of the best ideas of my career. No more work being tossed into the recycling bin as soon as it’s handed back, no more ignoring the comments, no more complaints about ‘what can I do to improve my mark?’ without even reading what I’d written. Every student had the chance, with every assignment, to revise and revise until he or she was satisfied with the mark, and I was satisfied that the student REALLY understood the task. There was no ‘end of the road’, no ‘sorry, try doing X next time’; they all knew that they could use my feedback to improve their practice. And man, did they ever. I only had one student out of 102 tell me that he was fine with a 68 on an assignment. Whenever I gave anything back, I announced “As always, if your mark is below level 4, then please use the feedback to improve and resubmit if you’d like to.”  Talk about happy kids. Did they realize that they were the ones doing all the work? As Damian Cooper says, excellence in education isn’t about lowering standards, it’s about making kids work harder to meet the high expectations we should have of them. Am I a genius? Of course not. Is anyone else doing things like this? Probably. Do I care that some people might think I’m crazy for doing this, and make broad statements about kids needing deadlines, and is it fair to the other kids who got level 4 the first time, and who has the time and etc. etc. Nah. My response is simple: We have differentiated instruction. We should have differentiated assessment.

2) I’m really happy that I took on the role of Site Supervisor of International Languages at Forest Heights. Yes, I work 6 days a week now, and I’m pretty exhausted by Saturday night, but the staff and kids are so wonderful, and it’s always kind of crazy and chaotic and funny. I’m learning a lot about how to be a great administrator, and if I EVER get placed as a VP, I’ll have mad skills.

3) I’m really happy that I made excellent use of my prep time this semester. I stayed in my room many days getting caught up on marking. With a lot of effort to avoid distractions, I managed to hardly ever bring marking home, and was able to spend more time a) with family and b) sleeping.

3) I’m really happy that everyone in my family is relatively healthy. I’ve seen a lot of colleagues suffering through family crises of one kind of another this fall and winter, and dealing with a lot of stress in their personal lives in addition to the work stress we all carry. I’m feeling very blessed that none of my loved ones are dealing with more than they should have to handle.

“What I Could Be Happier About”
1) First and foremost, I wish I’d been a better mentor. I feel like, in the last little while, I’ve neglected this part of our relationship. I’m glad that, over exams, we’ve been able to spend some time together, but I hate the thought that I’ve given you short shrift.

2) I need to make a serious effort to appreciate what I have right now, instead of constantly focusing on (and getting stressed out about) what I want tomorrow. I have no control over my own future it seems, and I just have to live with that knowledge rather than constantly feeling like Morissey: “When you say it’s gonna happen now, well when exactly do you mean?” And to follow up with Hamlet, ” If it be now,’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all”. When it comes, I’ll be ready, but for now, I have a wonderful family, supportive friends, great colleagues, and lovely and lively classes. What more could a department head ask for?