Thursday, August 25, 2016

3 resolutions for the new school year

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Ahhh, the end of August: the nights are getting cooler, the mornings are a little bit darker, and Labor Day is looming. Summer is almost over and school is about to begin! Obviously, every teacher mourns the end of summer, and I'm no different. But actually, this is one of my favorite things about teaching -- every September is a clean slate, a fresh start. I'm not one to make resolutions in January but I love to make them in September. Here are this year's three.


Resolution #1: Keep it simple. 

So one of the reasons why I haven't posted at all in the past six months is this little guy:




Being a first-time mom is everything everyone says it is: amazing, overwhelming, stressful, wonderful... too many adjectives. And now that September is just around the corner I'm well aware that I'll have to manage my time really carefully in order to do right by my family and by my students and colleagues. Plus, I'll be starting at a new school again (third school since 2013, due to circumstances beyond my control). That's a lot of new responsibilities. Luckily, I've been teaching Spanish long enough that I have a pretty big stockpile of lessons, materials and resources to draw from. That'll be my MO for this year: reuse, tweak when necessary, don't reinvent the wheel. Keep it simple! It's also good for me to trust what I've done in the past; I know I've done good work, and I can rely on my experience to inform what I'll be doing in class this year.

Resolution #2: Get organized. 

One of the great things about having thirteen years of teaching experience is that I have tons of material. One of the not-so-great things about having that much experience is that I have TONS OF MATERIAL. Like, thousands of files, some of which probably haven't been opened since 2009. I use Evernote to organize my units, lesson plans and authentic resources, but I need to weed out the hodgepodge of Office and Google Drive files for all of the classes I've ever taught. Ideally, I'd like to organize them first by ACTFL proficiency level, then by theme (rather than by course), so that they are easily accessible. And, to be honest, anything that I used more than five years ago, before I began designing proficiency-based lessons and assessments, can probably just be deleted (she typed nervously). 

Resolution #3: Focus on feedback.

Since I'm feeling confident about my resources, lessons and assessments, I want to really focus on giving quality feedback to my students. This is one of the reasons why I left public education for independent schools: to have much smaller classes, so that I can get to know my students much better, so that I can assess them fairly and give them precise and meaningful feedback. Unfortunately, as any teacher knows, the daily pressure to stay on top of lesson planning makes it difficult to spend time on feedback. I've found that I have still been grading rather than assessing. I'm still not sure what this will entail (fewer formal/graded assessments?), and of course I'll have to follow the practices of my new department, but I hope that I'll finally be able to tackle this aspect of my teaching that has been too long neglected. 

What are your new school year's resolutions?  

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