October 4, 2010
Bringing Teachers to the year 2010
This year has been an interesting one thus far, and I'm only in week 5. It has been my goal to be more helpful to my main department, English, and mind my own business a bit more in my elective, drama. English really does need more help as far as I'm concerned. Don't get me wrong, I think that my elective is as important as any class on campus, but let's face it, English is always struggling for one reason or another.
It is my hope that throughout this year I can offer my expertise to my department, and anyone on campus that needs assistance. Being a 21st century learner (class of 2001) and a 21st century teacher I feel like I have a lot to offer. But, bringing people into the new century is a slow process.
However, the struggles do not just belong to everyone else, I own mine constantly. Currently I am teaching a narrative/short story unit. This unit, oddly enough, has always been my greatest struggle as a teacher. I am constantly battling with a balance between reading and interpreting literature as well as writing. Should they be writing a lot, a bit, a medium amount, and how should that balance with their reading? This year I have tried something different with my 6th graders. They are doing a creative writing project where they created a character and will write 7 stories based on that character. All of which will be finished in a 9 week period. Some love it, others hate it, but I think that the amount of writing is making a difference. Also, it gives me more content to understand their writing struggles.
One aspect of teaching always seems to lead to another. Assigning more writing has opened my eyes to the specific struggles my students are having in their grammar. Currently I am working with them on proper comma usage, specifically regarding dependent clauses, as well as verb tense agreement. At no point did I ever get into teaching English in order to become a grammarian. But, I do accept that it is part of my job, and that it is important. We are working on their grammar through daily edits. Context has always been an important part of grammar and vocabulary in my teaching, so this really works well for them as well as for me.
As for my educational technology. I am trying to get my students to start thinking about their own work habits in order to learn to work smarter. I'm going to start putting out questions on my classroom website, which I am hoping that they will respond to, but will not be graded. I use a social networking site for education, Edmodo, in order to foster collaboration and 21st century learning. All of their grades are done through the site and they are able to collaborate in ways that were never possible when I was in their grade level. However, my students are constantly working for the sole purpose of getting credit and I want them to start thinking about working because they find something interesting. The real trick seems to be figuring out what they find interesting.
This should be a great experiment that I am embarking upon. One worry is that I will start to rely too much on 21st century technology and my students won't know what to do without it. But, at the same time, I don't know what they would do without it in this world. We will all continue to work for a better tomorrow, one where all students push themselves to their greatest potential because they know they have it in them, and not because I am standing behind them with my hand in the middle of their back.