Linda Conway once said, “It is not what is poured into a student that counts, but what is planted.”
Think about your class. What kinds of seeds are you planting for them? What kinds of opportunities are being provided for those seeds to blossom? What kinds of differentiated experiences are you providing to make sure that ALL students are successful?
William Butler Yeats once said “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”
This statement makes me think of our most difficult students and what we do to keep them engaged in the learning process. Although, not an easy task at times, it is OUR responsibility to reach EVERY student.
Think about your most difficult students. What are you doing to capture them? How are you trying to motivate them?
Mary Kay Ash once said, “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, you can achieve.”
Think about the limits you set on yourself. What are some ways that you might be able to stretch those limits? Take some time this week and/or this month to stretch your mind. Share your results with a colleague or supervisor.
The best teachers show you where to look but do not tell you what to see.
Do you consider yourself to be the best? What are you doing to help your students reach their academic goals? What are you doing to ensure academic proficiency for each and every one of your students?
As teachers, we all realize the importance of assessment. Effective teachers need to check for understanding on a consistent basis. Many of us would agree that giving a test is well intended and serves a purpose.
Unfortunately, this concept has gone too far. The idea of holding both students and teachers accountable for content mastery in a reasonable manner has turned into a landslide of “required” assessments that not only hurt children but take away a meaningful and purposeful education.
As such, we find ourselves trying to maintain a balance between meaningful assessments and a mere requirement. In many ways, we ask ourselves what is the real purpose behind this?
We should always remember that even though test scores are important and provide valuable information, it is the students that count.
Through the years, I have come to realize a few things about assessments:
- Help students understand that good scores can allow for more opportunities, particularly after high school and/or college
- Allow time during the year for short, yet consistent, practice opportunities thus alleviating much stress and anxiety during the assessment
- Correct practice test with your students, not forgetting to call on students to justify their responses
Think about what you can do to help your students perform their very best on these sometimes, very demanding assessments
As you begin to prepare for a new year ahead of us, think about what you can do to get every student, even the most reluctant ones, to participate in class discussions and take an active role in their academic success, especially as you begin to build rapport and establish expectations.
Often times, I usually ask their opinions about things, particularly around the issue of homework and testing. My thoughts on homework seem to change every year, often based on the class dynamic at that time. Some years, homework weighs heavy while others it is a less of an issue with students and families.
Throughout my teaching career I have learned there is not a “one size” fits all approach to homework. If anything, homework assignments should be differentiated and based solely on student need.
Unfortunately this is not always an easy task to accomplish, as certain things need to be considered when assigning homework assignments:
- Be reasonable with the amount of time you are expecting from students and families to complete assignments
- Homework should be assigned to either reinforce or practice previously leaned skills and concepts
- Homework should not be used in a punitive manner
What kinds of things can you do that will allow students to be successful with homework? Is there a homework expectation and/or routine that needs to be explicitly taught and/or shared with families? What will you do to hold students accountable for completing homework assignments?
While this is a time to celebrate with the close of yet another school year, we must always remember to take time and reflect on our practices this year. While reflecting can be difficult for some, it is also very rewarding, especially when the results that we want are finally achieved.
Take time this week to reflect on the last semester. What kinds of things could you improve upon for the upcoming school year? What might be one thing that you can start with on the first day? What could you implement within the first week? What will be one major change you will make for the first units if instruction?