I don’t know where you are in the school year, but we finished a week ago. There are a ton of other things going on in life right now, so I haven’t even started processing how the year went. A big part that I certainly did not like about this past year is that I rarely reflected on classroom experiences here, on this blog. That could be a strong reason why my first impression of this past year is a fairly negative one. Some things went well, other things went poorly, but I can’t shake the feeling that it didn’t end up anywhere near what I wanted. For me, it’s always a struggle to balance the content I teach with the interactions in the classroom.
Each class’s focus on a theme seemed to work OK. Nothing fantastic, but it added a certain cohesion that I can build on next year since I carved a big part of that out already. We always knew that everything we were reading was read for a certain view of our theme and I like the idea of that a lot. I’m just not sure of the reality of how to make it more meaningful to the students. Also, book groups are a great idea if I structure them a bit differently. Groups of students, all reading the same book together, resulted in more students liking what they were (supposed to be) reading and commenting about that. Some negatives there, too, but it’s a nice development for the outside reading requirement.
It’s the negative interactions that stick out and haunt me. Students probably think I say what I say and do what I do, never giving it another thought. But I agonize over ever word I’ve said, every action I’ve taken. Even if I think I was right, if a student feels I’ve done something wrong, a small part of me agrees because I should never make a student feel that way in the first place. I had a bunch of great students this year and a lot of positive connections with the overwhelming majority of my students. I keep telling myself this to make up for the few negative ones. The thing is, those negative ones are ones I keep having year after year. Oh, sure, the names and details change, but I keep having that one kid that really should get along with me just fine and, for some reason, doesn’t. I keep having that kid whose skills don’t budge at all the whole year. I keep having that student who loved reading at the beginning of the year and who hardly read a single book independently by second semester. I keep having these archetypes and I haven’t figured out a way to deal with them. Plus, I just need to pay more attention to the people I share fifty-three minutes at a time with. I get caught up in the content and ignore chances for interactions entirely too often.
So how about you? Can you tell me one good thing that happened in the 2010-2011 school year, one thing you’ll definitely do again next year? And can you match that with one thing you’ll do everything to avoid? The comments, as always, are open.