As part of the New Blogger Initiative (NBI), one of the writing prompts for week 1 is to talk about one or two specific things I plan on doing this year. I know that one of my biggest flaws as a teacher is in the area of communication, both with students and with parents. My primary foci of change for this year revolves around this key theme.
1. Improve in giving prompt feedback to students in their grades.
The biggest battle I fight with myself is over letting things that need to be graded pile up. This becomes especially harder for me once basketball season rolls around and I’m involved coaching every night. I know that timely, personal feedback is essential to student success, and every year I have the intention of not letting things pile up, but usually 2 or 3 times a year it happens anyways. I feel incredibly guilty when it happens, but it’s still a constant battle. My primary personal goal this year is to not let anything go ungraded for more than 2 class days (with the goal of having it all returned the next day). I have a good student aide during 8th period this year who can help with some of the grading so that all I need to do is check over those papers and see how kids are doing. So far, so good; but I know that the year is just beginning. I truly feel that this year will be the one in which I finally conquer this battle.
2. Make my classroom resources available online for students and parents.
As I adjust to teaching all new classes and essentially creating new lessons and plans, I want to make it as easy as possible for my students and parents to keep informed and keep up with anything that they may have missed if absent. To that end, I have a set up a public access portion of my googledocs account and set up a folder for each of my classes. In each folder, I will store any handouts, worksheets, etc, that I may use. Our school has been outfitted with new Mimio Teach hardware and software (which I am growing to love) this year. One neat feature that I have found is that I can save anything done through the Mimio software as a pdf file. That is such a huge deal for me because now I can post anything that we’ve done on the board easily online as a pdf so students who are absent can easily get it.
3. Communicate earlier with parents/guardians regarding struggling students.
Despite what the guys on my basketball team might tell you, I am not a confrontational person or someone who likes to discuss negative news. I have always hesitated and been unsure of how to approach struggles with parents. Another key goal this year is to be more proactive in my communication with parents so that they are not caught off-guard once progress reports begin to roll out.
I know that these are all self-centered goals as opposed to student-centered, but I truly believe that they will be key to my improvement as a teacher and to my effectiveness in the classroom.
I never really know how to end these things, so until next time . . . .