Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Putting one foot in next year

Over the weekend I received this email notification:

My reflection isn't due until the end May, about a week and a half before school ends, but to be real, I've been reflecting since the first day of school.  I can't help it; it's how I operate.

But... here's the thing.  When spring break rolls around, I start getting itchy to begin planning for next year.  And every year I tell myself that it's too early; I still have a little over two months with my current students, and there's still so much to do.

It's not that I want to wish this current class away... I don't!  I have the best class of third graders a girl could wish for for her first go at this grade level.  They have taught me so much about patience, humor, and trusting them (and myself).  I just keep thinking about how I could do things BETTER next year.

I'm a perfectionist.  I know that I can be a better teacher than I am right now, and I am lucky to work in a district that provides me with the resources I need to grow.  As I talk to colleagues and read their blogs and see their tweets, I am inspired to be better every day.

So what am I thinking about, sitting here on my couch in the middle of my spring break?  What will I do differently next year?

  • My kids will write more.  Looking back, I realize I put a HUGE emphasis on reading during my literacy studio, and I did not do enough writing instruction.  Because my literacy block is almost 2 hours long rather than separated into a reading workshop and a writing workshop, it is easy to focus on just one of the areas.  The whole idea of a literacy studio, though is to blend the reading and writing instruction as much as possible in order to build on the power of the reading/writing connection.
  • My kids will share more.  I am one of those teachers who KNOWS kids are supposed to share every day during literacy studio, but who doesn't remember to do that often enough.  Don't get me wrong... the kids talk every day in lots of situations.  But we don't SHARE our reading and writing lives enough.  This is something I'm thinking about a lot. And it's something I can make myself remember to do when we return to school next week.
  • My kids will do more inquiry-based learning in science and social studies.  I tell myself that because this was my first year learning the new curriculum, it was ok to just follow the units as they were written.  I know, though, that I've done a disservice to my students by not including them in the planning and learning as much as I could have.  This needs to change.
  • I will incorporate more choices into my math block.  The expectation in my district is that our math block is really a math workshop, where there is a short mini-lesson followed by time when students have choice in their work while I pull small groups or confer with individual students.  This did not happen most days, in large part due to my discomfort as a math teacher.  I'm working on learning more about being a math teacher, so hopefully I will be able to make this better next year.

Being a reflective practitioner is an important part of teaching.  It's easy to sit back and think about everything that went well, and a bit harder to acknowledge the things that aren't so great.  But if I am to truly grow as a teacher, I can't just stay in my comfort zone; I have to push myself to face my weaknesses and seek out the help I need in those areas.

So yeah... I have one foot in next year.  But there's still one firmly planted in this year.  And I owe it to my students to be fully focused on them until June 8.

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