Those words roll off my tongue like the sweet melodies of the Irish whistle my wife brought home from her mom's house. My teaching career up to this point has been like trying to play that Irish whistle. I have tried to learn basic songs, and i know the basic concepts behind it. The whistle has a nice major scale which means basic songs are fairly easy to hammer out. The notes mostly sound good together, and when I get into the groove of a real song, it sounds great. The majority of my time on the Irish whistle however is full of tweets, screeches, and all manners of miserable sounds that happen when I am fumbling to find an even flow of air, keep my fingers firmly planted on all holes (do they have a more technical term? Wikipedia says holes, so I am going with that), and with all that trying to find the right notes for the right songs (In the Jungle, Steve Miller Band - The Joker, Blink 182 - Dammit, and finally the Mario Bro's Theme song).
In many ways that was my first year of teaching. There were a few right notes (I started strong with student engagement, some activities, good one on one teaching, and even a fairly strong lesson which incoroporated WCYDWT). The rest of the time was fumbling, floundering, and all around frustration. Way too much time was spent in class giving lecture, then homework, then notes, then homework, etc. My French class was perhaps the worst of all, because I am simply not as creative in French like I am Math, and in Science I am still learning a lot to become a proficient teacher. Assessment was aweful. I can say that fairly confidently, because it was so few an far between that I could not give students a real chance to know, reflect, and react on their achievement and learning. With that being said I know I am not a failure, I am simply a first year teacher. I was over-blowing my tin whistle, and this summer I hope to learn an even keel wind velocity.
My Summer Plan
What I have loved about my year!
- Blogging - this and twitter have really opened my eyes to what is possible as a math/science teacher. I hope to stretch this beyond those subjects, but i really needed a boost this year to show me that it is possible to be an interesting teacher.
- One-on-one - I have always felt that this has been my best teaching method. One-on-one interaction has been a strong suit for me, and I hope to try discover better ways to foster that relationship.
- Integration of Technology - So many people in my school know me as the tech guy, and I have really enjoyed being that guy. It has really helped kids to engage more (when done right, but that is for my improvement list).
Areas that MUST Improve
- Assessment - I am slow slow slooooooooooooow. I love assessment when I can do it well, but I get dragged down by how long it takes. I need to learn ways to streamline this assessment. I think in some ways implementing SBG will help, but also hinder my speed. I want to do smaller assessment more often, rather than bigger unit assessments. With reassessment however, I think is where I will get hung up.
- Hands on Constructivist learning - This has been the toughest thing. I find so often my "constructivist" teaching has been give them an assignment, and let them struggle with it, not the carefully structured, clear, and guiding constructivism that I see modelled so much in the blogs that I read. This is what I want to learn.
- Authentic Questioning - I need to learn how to ask the right questions that scaffold students just to the point of comprehension without babying them to the answer I want to hear. I look forward thi
- More labs and experiments in Science - Seeing Frank Noschese (Frank how do you pronounce our last name?) herald the joys and wonders of modelling science I see it and I want it. I fear that there is a gap between my abilities, and what modelling science really needs. I hope that this summer I will be able to find enough resources to really begin modelling. I would love to get to a conference in the Pacific Northwest to truly learn this methodology.
- Parent Communication - Out of my evaluations this was the hardest thing to realize that I had failed. I know the reality of the learning community, and I really let my parents down this year by the lack of communication. I hope to turn my Standards Based Grading system to be the catalyst for authentic parental involvement.
How Will I do all of this?
This summer is going to be many things, and the main thing that I look forward to is truly prepping and planning engaging activities. I have so many helpful resources from becoming a blog addict, and know that I WILL still everything you people have, with no shame, but I hope to contribute everything that I have come up with as well: I like give and take.