Wednesday, March 19, 2014

TPRS Year 4 - Hard changes

This year, I am at a new school after last year seeming like a fairly strong year for my CI teaching.  I saw a lot of growth in my friend and I collaborating (in our different schools) between creating curriculum for our Spanish 1-2 classes.

This year here are all of the new things I have had to find a way to live/work with:

  1. Other teachers in my department - Good to have others to collaborate with, when you can be like-minded.  Also neat that two of the teachers in my department (out of 3) have decided to do more storytelling and Comprehensible Input after seeing gains in their Spanish 1 classes they hadn't seen before!  Yay for their success!
  2. Block Scheduling - this one has been one of the hardest.  How does one go from seeing students every day (50 minutes) to seeing them every other day (90 minutes)?  It's still something I am wrapping my brain around.  Sadly, the retention doesn't seem as high.  Probably because I am not effectively teaching during the block.
  3. Standards-Based-Grading - Not a bad idea.  I was probably moving towards this in my philosophy.  Still, something I have been forced to dabble with before I might have been ready.
  4. New relationships - going to a new school forces you to build relationships all over again  with students, faculty, & staff. That itself makes it harder to teach and to work with others.
  5. Common assessments - having others dictate what and when I assess is a big adjustment.
  6. PAT - I've been trying Preferred Activity Time this year and need to tweak it next year
  7. FVR - I've been letting my students read children's books at the beginning of class, also might need to tweak that next year
  8. Pairs/groupwork - I have been encouraged by some to do more with pairs/group work.  I prefer input, but I must appease those above me.
And there is probably more.  But while I find things I want to do, I remind myself that next year, I can start afresh and do better.  I want to implement a more strict policy with cellphones, eye-contact, heads down, etc (a la JGr (on Ben Slavic's PLC))

Sufficed to say, I've been getting down lately.  After doing some assessments, I've been dissapointed with myself after some students' performance.  Why do I blame myself though?  Why do we as teachers take so much flak for everything?  Sometimes there are kids who refuse to be reached no matter what I do.  Why must I feel like a failure?  Can't the responsibility at some point lie somewhere else?  I can't be a scapegoat anymore...

On a positive note, here's an email I got today from a student in one of my classes:
I just wanted to thank you for all you have taught me. I feel like it is easier than i expected and that I enjoy it. I have even been starting to speak a little at home to teach my family. This has had a significant influence on me and i wanted to let you know i appreciate it. 

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