Tuesday, June 30, 2015

School year highlights

Discovery was probably the central idea (hahaha common core) of my second year of teaching 10th grade English (and high school in general).

1. Students - TEENAGERS! What a crazy mix of humor, bravado, curiosity, disdain for adults (among other things), and uncertainty about the future and their own roles in it. Each class section had a unique personality! Students in my first period class (starting at 7:25am) were sleepy yet social, quick to organize parties. Last period students bounced off the walls if the lesson involved group work and made other classes seem calm, reasonable, and mature. I also enjoyed advising freshman class officers, a group of enthusiastic, cheerful go-getters. All in all, interesting young people, 99% of whom cheerfully greeted me every single day!

2. Curriculum - CCLS was a key figure, huzzah, familiarizing us with central idea development, text analysis, and argument development. So was literature - fiction and nonfiction - The Four Agreements, Greek mythology, Odyssey, Julius Caesar, poetry, and Holocaust literature. The biggest hit was the Serial podcast (thanks to Mr. Godsey aka The Skeptical Pioneer), thoroughly enjoyed by students! Perhaps the one activity that made the most impact (on classroom climate, student engagement, long term intrinsic learning) was the current events class opener. During the first half of the year I assigned readings of Kelly Gallagher's Article of the Week, which received mixed reviews from students, with one notable exception - extended readings and discussions about Michael Brown/Ferguson that engaged everyone and connected with units/lessons/discussions/news throughout the rest of the year. In early spring, at my daughter's soccer game, I overhead a conversation between moms who complained their children weren't learning current events in school. Kicked into action by guilt and the truth in their words, I began the daily current events class opener - a few minutes at the beginning of class to share headline news that sometimes evolved into longer discussions. Overall I enjoyed this the most - sharing news that interested me, learning from students, watching them learn from each other.

3. Colleagues - With about a hundred teachers in my school building where I've worked for only two years, I'm still learning to associate names with faces, but this year I was fortunate to make good friends among kind and thoughtful colleagues.

What else is there?! It's been a terrific year! Next year, English 10 again, but also English 11, and *gasp* my own classroom. More adventures await!

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