At the beginning of the year, I set a number of goals for myself, one of which was to reflect on said goals every two months. My second set of reflections are in italics below.
I will improve the way I give feedback to students. Formally, I hope to develop a system to give students feedback about writing that meaningfully a) tells students where they are, b) what they need to do to improve and c) is efficient enough that I can provide frequent and timely feedback to all students. I also need to make sure I am giving informal feedback more frequently to all students. (I hope that moving to a Standards Based Grading system will enable these things to happen organically).
At the end of the semester, I saw that a good chunk of students had changed how they went about trying to improve their grades. Instead of asking for missing assignments or extra credit, students were asking how they could demonstrate improvement in different learning goals. This seemed to be a good indicator that I’m doing well with the first two parts of this goal. I am still struggling with being more efficient in grading, and am thinking that might be a persistent struggle for as long as I teach (and that is okay).
Students will have multiple opportunities to rethink and revise their answers to large essential questions throughout each unit, and will also reflect on and revise all major work.
I have been widely divergent in achieving this goal. I have been better at using large essential questions to guide my class. For the past few months, the question “How Democratic is the US?” has been at the center of everything we have done, and it has been rewarding to see students’ answers to this question evolve as we’ve looked at different events. At the same time, I have yet to have students do major revision of their work, and need to work this into my plans for second semester.
I will solicit bi-weekly feedback from my students to ensure they understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and to give them a voice in what happens in the class.
I am abandoning this goal. Bi-weekly was too frequent, and I am finding I am getting much more useful information from informal verbal check-ins than I did from my survey.
The Social Studies Critical Friends Group will meet once a month, and will be valuable for its participants.
I’m very happy with how the group has been going. As we meet more often, I’m starting to see lots of connections made between various presentations. I wrote a more thorough update last month.
100% of my new advisees will either graduate or earn at least ten credits by June.
Thirteen out of fifteen are on pace. One of my advisees is transferring to a school that will give him a better chance of progressing. Unfortunately, I had an advisee miss most of the past two months for health reasons, but she’s back and I hope to help her get back on track in the coming weeks
100% of my advisees will be accepted to college, and will have a plan to pay for it or whatever else they choose to do next year.
About half of my advisees have been accepted into schools they are willing to attend. In February, we need to begin looking at how to pay for it.
Personal / Professional Development
At least once per week, I will write and publish a piece of writing about teaching social studies, be it about my practice or teaching in general.
I’m still mostly on pace for this one, and am proud that in the last two months I have had three pieces published to much wider audiences:
- Teaching History Through Inquiry on Education Week Teacher
- If I Don’t Grade My Students’ Regents Exams, Who Will? on the New York Times’ SchoolBook
- In Creating Successful Schools, One Size Does Not Fit All on the New York Times’ SchoolBook
Every two months, I will write and publish a self-evaluation of how I am doing on these goals.