Thursday, July 19, 2007


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!


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 ( 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!