My Job

January 29, 2009

This may not be as much of a useful chunk of info as normal. (I’m pretty much using this blog to keep track of ideas and reflections on the effectiveness of lessons – much like I would have been forced to do in a different format had I student taught in the traditional route.)

THIS POST is about what I’m doing and why.  I put a LOT of thought into what is important to teach and what I consider non essential.  I have a lot of feelings about this that are different from many English teachers.  I don’t force them to memorize much of anything.  (OK, every once in a while there are important terms to learn, and I do work with vocab to some extent and need to step it up in that area.)  But overall, I avoid tedious worksheets full of useless nonthinking questions.

I want these kids to learn how to THINK and read between the lines.  I feel that I am teaching life skills to the best of my green ability.  I have a group of students who are very rarely prepared for class.  I use “Socratic questioning” methods, more or less, and therefore the effectiveness of the class is dependant on their PREPARATION and PARTICIPATION.  Authentic learning would be going on if they did their homework and did it well. 

I feel like I need to spend more time explaining reading strategies.  I fear that this is where I have failed them, by assuming that they are all naturally capable of doing a close reading without emphasizing the skills and strategies to aid them in being successful in this arena.  This is a deplorable oversight on my part. 

With my own guilt acknowledged, I need to express that my intentions are good!    I really do try to teach “critical thinking” and analytical skills above all else.  (To me, this goes hand in hand with the writing process.)  I find that one of the biggest challenges is that this skill is difficult to measure.  I can see it so some extent, but I feel that the students cannot see the change whatsoever.  The question is: when I think I’ve seen progress, is it really the result of working at school or is it simply maturity that comes from age and experience (when they are still so young, a few months can provide tremendous emotional growth). 

Ummmmmmmmmmm… I suppose I’m finished with my rant.  These are issues that I would like to address…  hopefully I can address some of them before the end of this school year.


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