I remember when I was in college, one of the things that we had to do during student teaching was write a reflection at the end of each day, and then one at the end of the week. I remember thinking to myself, "What a waste of time! This is soooo not what real teachers do!" Boy was I wrong. It is now something I instinctively do moment by moment throughout my day. I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about! At the end of each year, I like to sit down and list the things that I did well, and the things that I want to change. I like to make myself a "glow and grow" list, if you will! So...today's post is my "glow" list. These are the things that I feel like I did well this year. They are the things that I want to make sure I keep doing next year. (before you think, "boy, she's full of herself"....My "grow" list is tomorrow, and I'm sure it is longer than this one!) So here we go....
1. I did a great job of keeping up with our social studies and science curriculum this year. It can be so easy to push those subjects aside when we just need a little more time to teach something else. But, this year one of the goals that I set for myself was to fully cover all of the standards for science and social studies and not just touch on them. Two things helped me accomplish this. First of all, it helped that the ESOL teacher pushed in during this segment each day. She was prepared for her part of the lesson each day. So, no matter how busy my day had been, or how much I needed to fit in something besides science and social studies, I couldn't! She was counting on doing what we had planned. Second, I tried to integrate science and social studies into reading as much as possible. I did my best to find guided reading books that would further teach some of the material. I would also do some of my read alouds during my mini lesson in reading on one of our science or social studies topics.. My students this year loved science and social studies. We were able to do a lot of fun things! I definitely want to keep this up next year!
2. As I have said before, I had a wonderful class this year. They worked together so well. That has not always been the case. In fact, before this year, I had three (yes, three) VERY difficult classes in a row. My first year of teaching, my kids were good, but it was my first year. I was just figuring things out myself. Then, my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of teaching.....well....I'm just going to be honest people......I went home many days in tears! They were tough! So, I had not always been able to do a ton of group work. The kids just couldn't handle it. No matter how much I tried, it just didn't work. I was spending more time trying to teach them how to work together than I was actually teaching! But this year, I made up for lost time! My kids worked together ALL. THE. TIME. this year. I think that this is so important to learning. Kids need to talk about their learning. They need to be able to articulate what they do or don't understand. They need to talk about their mistakes, and use problem solving skills to help each other figure out how to fix those mistakes! And, its great for the higher kids to explain how or why they know what they know to other kids. This year, my students worked together during math centers each day, they would sometimes read with a partner while I taught guided reading, and we did TONS of partner/group work during science and social studies time. I had so much fun watching them work together this year and I hope to continue that next year. It wasn't quiet in my room very often this year, but they were learning and talking about their learning through group and partner work, and I loved it!
3. Grading....oh, grading! Where do I start??? I have never been good at keeping up with grading. In the past I have had HUGE stacks of paper everywhere. Then, I would feel bad if I didn't grade every one of them...crazy, right?!? In my district, we use a standards based grading system (3-meets the standard, 2-progressing toward meeting the standard, 1-does not meet). It is not an averaging system. The students' report card grades are based on their mastery of each standard at the end of the quarter only. I realized, most of the work I give my kids is either for practice or for me to quickly glance at in order to restructure groups for the following week and to decide what each group needs. So, why am I spending so much time grading those never ending stacks of paper?!? I got smart this year. I had two paper trays stacked on top of each other for the students to turn in work. If I knew that I was going to grade a paper (usually for the purpose of grouping kids for the following week) I would tell them to put it in the "top" basket when they were finished. If I knew that the assignment was just for practice, I told them to put it in the bottom basket when finished. This way, at the end of the day, I would quickly go through the bottom basket, glance over the papers and just put a check on them. I would send them home the next day, and be done with it. The ones on the top I would take home and actually grade! These were the ones that helped me plan further instruction. There weren't many of them, so it wasn't a daunting task. This made it much less time consuming! I did pretty good with this. I rarely had huge stacks of paper waiting on me! Hopefully I can keep up with that next year!
Well there you have it. Those were the goals that I set for myself this year. I have to remind myself sometimes that I am only human.....I can only do so much, and everything won't always work perfectly! I am my own worst critic, so it is good for me to remind myself of the things that I did well!
Tomorrow....the 1,000,000 things that I can improve for next year. Haha! Then, on Thursday, I will share pictures of some of my favorite things I did with my kids this year!
So, what are some things that you liked about your classroom/teaching this year?