For the first time in four years of teaching, I decided to create an end-of-the-year survey for my students to complete. Throughout the year, I have used Google Forms to survey my students’ interests and needs, but as I was reflecting on this year, I wanted to hear what the students had to say, so I could incorporate their feedback while planning for the upcoming school year (yes, it is already time to start thinking about September!).
As summer approaches, a hot topic seems to be summer reading. Most schools assign a book for each grade level to read during the summer, and those students are then expected to return to school in September in preparation for an essay/project on the assigned reading. But is summer reading beneficial or detrimental to our students?
As my War & Literature course was coming to a close, I decided to do an alternative assessment that would give my students the opportunity to make a difference in the world.
During the semester, I invited a military sergeant into my classroom to speak with my students about military training and combat, and a few weeks later, my students and I visited the Vietnam Memorial Museum in Holmdel, New Jersey, where the students spoke with veteran soldiers and learned about their war experiences. My goal was to relate the course curriculum to the real world and make the literature come alive for these students, but I still felt that I wasn’t doing enough…
A common topic among my previous posts is advice: advice to teachers from students, advice for teaching in the final month, and advice from seniors to upcoming seniors. Going along with this theme, I thought I’d blog about advice for brand new teachers. I have realized that there is so much I know now that I wish I knew during my first year of teaching, and because of this, I’d like to share some of things I’ve learned, and wish someone would have told me.
With five weeks of school left, students tend to lose interest and become disengaged. They are excited for summer, and with the warm weather, they just want to be outside enjoying themselves. It is even more difficult to keep the students engaged when they are graduating seniors and have already been accepted into college. Yet, I’ve found a few strategies to keep my seniors motivated in the midst of prom, graduation, and college orientations.
A few months ago, I explained to my classes that I would be absent for a day because I was presenting at a conference for other educators. I asked my students a question: If you could give any advice to teachers, what would it be? Below are the honest responses from my Senior English class:
As a teacher and lifelong learner, I am constantly reflecting on my teaching practices and pedagogy, and trying to improve myself in the profession. I’ve spent a ton of money professional learning books, have attended several conferences and educational workshops, and have taken a number of graduate courses to enhance my teaching strategies. I’ve turned to some of the best educators in the filed for guidance and advice, but all along, I should have been asking the people sitting right in front of me–my own students!
Since my first year of teaching, I have taken the initiative to invite guests into my classroom. I always believed that relating class readings to the real-world would engage the students and give them a purpose/motive for studying the literature. At first, the idea of Skype never crossed my mind, so I had the guests physically come to my class, but with the use of Skype, I was able to have FOUR guest speakers this year!
My first year of teaching, I often used Literature Circles with my freshmen. For the most part, it was successful, but only if I frequently monitored each group and held each group member responsible for the group’s grade. I liked the way this worked, but I found that certain students were dominating the discussions each time, so I only used Literature Circles for one small unit.