Into My Classroom

Fourth Year Biology Teacher Sharing My Musings With The World

2010-11 Reflections

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As I sit here anxiously awaiting my student AP scores, I cannot help but to reflect on the past year.  I felt that the 2010-11 school year was one of my best as far as instructional practices, but was the worst in regards to test scores (based on EOC results only, not AP).  I tried PBLs, Inquiry based lessons, technology incorporation, teacher collaboration, interdisciplinary lessons…and no results.

Now I’m sure that you can imagine how discouraging it was to see that all of my efforts did not produce the desired results.  Maybe some of you have been there yourselves even.  It is so easy to place blame on the students, parents or administration, but in the end it all boils down to the teacher.  I believe that I have made much progress since my first year teaching.  I also believe that I have plenty more to learn and by doing so, my students WILL perform where they need to in order to be successful.

First, I would like to review my accomplishments of the year and strategies that I felt worked really well:

  1. Problem-Based Learning.  I love PBLs because the students are working towards a common goal.  I would like to incorporate many more next year, possibly one for each topic.  There are many out there for use in addition to the ones I have created thus far.  The only issue with PBLs is time, but that should be easier this year with seeing my students daily.
  2. Chunking the text.  I did this a lot in my AP Environmental Science class.  Basically, the students would be divided into groups and be responsible for teaching their section to the class.  I can enhance this activity by giving my students a set of questions that they must address.  I lucked up last year because my students were really engaging and often hit every important point without me stepping in.  I hope that I have students that are just as engaged next year.
  3. Having a routine.  This is a goal that I have been working on for years and have yet to master.  I did notice that every time I followed a routine, my days went by much more smoothly.  One would think that if I had a great day with a routine I would keep it up…yeah I’m a little special sometimes.
  4. Discipline problems way down!!!  During my first year, I had a 1 inch binder packed with infraction forms.  This past year I had so few that I could have kept them in a small folder.  I credit this to adapting my instructional style and coming to terms that I am dealing with teenagers, not robots.
  5. Less PowerPoint usage.  I know technology is a very valuable asset to the classroom when used properly.  On a few occasions, I would write out the notes by hand and the students responded better and gave me positive feed back because they could now keep up and they said that I explained things better when I wrote them down.  I guess no matter how hard you may try not to read from the slide, it still comes through as reading from the slide.

I have already mentioned some things I will change in the list above.  Here are a few more:

  1. Keep it relative.  If the students do not care, they are lost.  I know that the PBLs will help with this.  I am also planning on incorporating more current events and class discussion to assist with this goal.
  2. Plan ahead.  This is really for the labs.  There were so many times last year where I planned to do a lab only to discover that I had to grow plants, bacteria, collect samples, or order living materials.  I don’t like planning too far in advance because I change my mind often, but before the year begins, my labs need to be set in stone and the class schedule needs to work around them – no matter what!
  3. Organization is key.  By being organized I will change my class culture by adding more structure.  I have seen this in action and need to remain consistent.
  4. Keep it simple.  Sometimes I would get overwhelmed by the workload I was placing on my students.  I did not do it intentionally, but there were just so many things to cover and I felt it was all important.  By focusing on QUALITY assignments instead of quantity, I will make gains in my classroom.

I’m very sure that this list can go on and on or that I will think of something else soon as I hit submit, but the key is, I have a lot of work to do.  To sum it all up, I feel that working on being more organized, streamlining my assignments, and focusing on QUALITY 100% of the time, I will see great gains.  I know that I am a great teacher and that I can make a difference in all of my students’ lives.  The year of 2011-12 will be a productive one and I envision great things happening.

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Written by Ashley Erin

July 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Refiections

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