Revising My Thinking–and My School Year

I am halfway through the third quarter of the 2022-2023 school year. It has been another hard year:  it is the year of our five-year accreditation evaluation; the learning “gaps” are becoming more obvious; it’s harder to juggle my work as a classroom teacher and academic dean/administrator/curriculum “director” or coordinator/mentor teacher. . . . And on top of that, there are the personal challenges:  I have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes and am learning to live with it–and all its complications.  And I am turning 65. . . .

Most people would be thinking of retiring after 43 years in the classroom and turning 65. Instead, I’m learning more in the last year than I thought possible, thinking more about the profession, and figuring out how to teach my middle schools and bridge that “gap” that’s making it harder than ever to teach.

I’m rethinking the way I want the rest of this year to go.

One of the evaluators on our accreditation team made this statement as I talked to them about the curriculum:  “Are we teaching our students to love our subjects or to hate them?”

Oh my goodness!  It really was an OMG question for me.  How do change that?

The same evaluator, whether she knew it or not, challenged me to rethink my teaching strategies.

I’ve always been “drawn” to the workshop model of teaching and learning; I want a more learner-centered classroom. But, gosh! it’s hard to accomplish that! Yet–I am.

Last week, I bought a digital interactive notebook for dystopian literature. As I read the information about that notebook, the author referred to the Lucy Calkins Dystopian Literature unit of study, which I also bought (now, I’ve bought more Lucy Calkins materials). I’m reading through the lessons on dystopian character archetypes and making notes everywhere–in my notebook, on sticky notes, in my head. And I’m wondering how to apply this to my other classes.

And then, there is the “accountability” piece:  How do I grade students in the workshop? How do I hold them accountable for their learning? I’m struggling to get them to read even with the threat of tests and quizzes!

So, I am revising–and researching—and notetaking. . . . notemaking, rethinking.

More to come. . . .

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