My blogging has slowed, and I think part of the reason is that I need to do something a bit different. In the past I have written about topical items and teaching techniques, which I think can still be a part of this blog, but I plan to use this more of a journal-type series of posts. Keeping a running log about what I do as teacher on a daily basis might be a more realistic view of teaching as well as allow me to record my history as a teacher. Maybe, just maybe, I can quash some of the misconceptions about teachers as well, try to show the public–even one person if I am lucky enough to have a non-teacher or two read this blog–that a school year really is a year in length.
Today, for example, I read 5-6 articles on education, explored my class roster for the upcoming school year, and shared some files with a colleague.
The article I spent the most time reading (and checking out the comments) is a Seattle Times editorial advocating teachers and their union to “focus on new reforms” without actually including any advice that really goes beyond following what the law already says teachers must do (e.g. include student test scores in the evaluation process, which is current law and not even a choice). This type of empty rhetoric simply allows an editorial board to promote a privatizing agenda without really saying anything of substance but still pushes the buzzwords in education such as reform, union, contracts, etc. The Seattle Times, now without a competing major newspaper since The Seattle Post-Intelligencer became an online only reporting agency, has become increasingly strident and heavy-handed in its disdain for the state teachers union in addition to becoming a mouthpiece for privatizers of education. I spent about an hour total reading all of the articles.
It looks like my classes will average 29-30 students each.
I explored my class roster today and learned quite a bit about my students. Since our records are available online, I decided to see what my students’ GPAs look like, how they did in English last year, and what their households look like. Overall, the classes look pretty accomplished with a number of students challenging themselves with their first upper-level English courses. Some teachers don’t like this, but I love seeing students push themselves academically; I firmly believe that a B- in an advanced course means more than an A- in a non-accelerated course. I think the records review took about 90 minutes in total.
Lastly, I shared some vocabulary files I created for my classes. I probably help my colleagues teach vocabulary more than just about anything else during the year. I maintain a steady routine each week for the kids to follow, so they don’t have to guess what is due each day or be surprised by the week’s schedule; however, I do try mix up the reviews and practices with puzzles, games, synonyms, antonyms, shared word parts, connect the words to the literature, sentences, stories, and so on. The more we use the words, the better the students know them.