Upon Reflection

20140523_091254I keep waiting for the pressure to drop away. But, even though the number of teaching days dwindles, there remain lessons to plan, papers to grade, and end of the year paperwork to prepare. Additionally, it appears there is direct proportion of the temperature to the students’ behavior. Since the seniors left, the underclassmen have been increasing fidgety and unwilling to do the hard work.

As tempting as it is after a rough day in the classroom to give in, I won’t let myself. There is material they need to know for the final, there is thinking I want them to do and with five days left, I need to make it count. On the other hand, I have dramatically scaled back my expectations for what to accomplish even during the experimental block classes. While it would have been lovely to practice with my juniors for next year, I have three freshmen blocks and the extra timer means I can now do all the grammar I’ve been meaning to fit in.

The freshmen disappointed me as word arrived from my peers that their final essays mostly missed the mark, not fully comprehending the writing prompt. What frustrates me is that the classes immediately preceding the final were devoted to teaching them how to pull apart a prompt and how to do the pre-writing. It has taught me some valuable lessons for next year.

20140523_091056And as the year draws to a close, there has been increased emphasis on reflection. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had to fill out reflection forms for my Consulting Teacher and my Department Chair so I have a pretty clear idea of what I have learned, what I still need to learn, and what to do differently next year. This coming week, I will be polling my students, asking them to evaluate their classroom experience so I can have their feedback in addition to the comments I’m receiving from my peers.

The key to next year’s success is being more structured and unyielding with the rules. I’ve been too slow to remove disruptive student, for example, and some see me as a pushover. That can’t happen next year for me to be more effective with the sophomores, juniors, and creative writers. I’m also thinking about ways to alter the physical space to make the room work a little better.

While all this thinking is good, there are still classes and finals to get through. Then there’s the ceremonial removal of all objects from the walls, storing things away for the thorough summer cleaning. Before that even, tomorrow is graduation and I will don my cap and gown for the first time as an educator, cheering on the handful of seniors I had in my classes. This is something I am genuinely looking forward to.

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