Thursday, July 19, 2007

Goals

Each year at the end of August, our superintendent shares his goals for the upcoming school year with the entire K-12 staff. This meeting is followed by a second gathering, where the high school principal and his administrative team share their goals for the high school. In a third meeting, the English Department chairman shares his goals for - you guessed it - the English Department.

Teachers are then asked to declare their personal goals for the school year. I am not sure what my "official" goals will be for 2007-2008, but below are some of the things I would like to accomplish (Included are also some things I know I will accomplish... it makes the list less intimidating.):

* Continue professional development by attending a podcasting seminar this August, and the New England Association of Teachers of English conference this October.

* Continue working to establish a professional school culture by collaborating and sharing with colleagues.

* Work to maintain open communication with parents (via blog, e-mail, phone, and student/teacher/parent conferences).

* Spend more time focusing on the writing process, and consider assigning more weight to brainstorms, freewrites, rough-drafts, and revisions.

* Improve implementation of writer's workshop by better modeling the drafting process and explicitly teaching what constitutes effective peer feedback.

* Create assignments that foster higher-order thinking skills.

* Ensure students write every day.

* Ensure students read every day.

* Provide the opportunity for students to think critically every day.

* Spend more time developing a reader's workshop, and improving the reading skills of all students.

* Be aware of students' multiple learning styles and provide opportunities for ALL to engage in small group and whole-class discussions. This includes finding ways for students who struggle with public speaking to comfortably express their views and thoughts.

* Do a better job helping reluctant readers to read class literature outside of class. I'd really like to arm these students with a list of reading strategies and get them to tolerate and perhaps even find pleasure in reading.

* Use non-fiction articles and shorter writing pieces to flush out themes and major ideas from the required curriculum in hopes of making the novels, plays, and short-stories more accessible and engaging .

* With my journalism class, find a balance between teaching and assessing concepts and skills with time for students to work independently on our high school's newspaper.

* Build on the use of blogs as a place to post and share writing. Perhaps this also means starting a class wiki or using podcasts and other technological tools to lend a 21st century bent to various assignments.

* Get students reading newspapers and paying more attention to current events. See this post here about the thoughts I have for my classroom's Current Events Cove.

* Find ways to hold all students accountable during small-group discussions by setting baseline standards that all students must meet when working in groups.

* Elucidate the steps required for an in-depth discussion, rather than simply hoping one will organically evolve. Sometimes the students will naturally take a discussion into deeper waters. I need to do a better job of observing the conditions present when this happens, and then be able to articulate it so they understand what led to them having a "really cool" or "awesome" discussion.

I could probably spend a few hours sitting here writing about what I'd like to do as a teacher next year, and what I'd like my students to accomplish, but I think I'm going to try to bring this post to a close, as it's getting close to dinner time, and I want to do some reading a bit later.

If any of you have thoughts or suggestions about some of my goals, or would like to share any of your own, please do!

3 comments:

Jocelyn said...

Mr. B-G, thanks for the comment on our blog and for contributing to our discussion.
For me, reading became complete drudgery when I had to read 90 pages of a book a night and sweat through a 'book test' the next day to make sure that I'd read. I am a slow reader (and a bit of a daydreamer), so I really got to hate reading because of the way it was assigned. I wish there were more situations like the one that you referred to in your comment. Here's hoping!

CT said...

Thanks for the link to my site (www.literarylotus.com) on your assignment blog. As a one-time high school teacher and current blogger, I know they are a great tool. You might be interested in Throughlines, a blog by a former colleague at Punahou School, where he posts about student blogs and everything else (at the start he was posting every day). Cheers.

Mr. B-G said...

You're welcome CT. I read Bruce's blog regularly. He has some creative ideas and strong insights into the teaching of reading and writing.

He's actually been a source of inspiration and innovation with my own teaching, and I'm quite grateful!