Thursday, January 20, 2011


With the start of a new semester, I asked the kids to look over their work from first semester and reflect about the growth they'd made, as well as set goals for the new semester in their reading and writing.

Last week, I wasn't feeling like a great teacher.  I was second-guessing some of the choices I'd made.  For me, teaching is constant reflection and revision, which is a blessing and a curse.

The first several questions are about their work and goals as students.  There is so much good stuff here.  Examples:
"As a writer, I've really improved at putting scenes and details in my narratives.  The evidence for this is my _____ narrative."
"I've already read more books this year than I did for all of last year.  I actually want to read now."
"I need to make reading more of a priority.  I should read instead of watching TV."
"I have to work on making my thesis statements clear because right now they are too long and confusing."

One after another, they amaze me.  These are kids who have grown as readers and writers and know a lot about what they can do and where they need help.

For the first time in my teaching career, I ask for mid-year input.  I asked them to be kind but let me know if there were things they really liked, were confused about, or wanted me to change.  I was nervous.  It reminds me how they feel getting graded all the time.

Some of my favorites:
"I've never had a class that was run, graded, and taught like this before and I really like it."
"I would love for you to give us even more reading time, but I don't think it's going to happen."
"Maybe you could print instead of writing in cursive because sometimes I can't read your handwriting."

I fear this post might not be very interesting to read, but today rejuvenated and reinforced so many of my choices.  The students were so wise, productive, and kind.  Sometimes I wish the general public could see the teenagers I do.

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