Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday morning review...

It's Saturday morning (yay!!) I slept in, read Sherlock Holmes, made pancakes, and am now ready to start my plans for next week. As I learn to be a teacher (or to be a better teacher), I wonder what is or isn't effective. Some things I learned this week:

1. REVIEW!!! Review, review, review. Every day, I ask my students what we talked about yesterday. If we learned a new grammar structure, I have them write examples on the board. I ask questions about it. I think it helps them reconnect with the material since they go from class to class. It's also another chance for me to see if they understand or not.
2. Explaining learning outcomes for the students - Learning outcomes seemed novel to me at first, but then I remembered working with first graders. Every day, we wrote on the board "Today's language goal is: ... " I have really only implemented this in one of my classes. We have a great book that weaves one question for the unit through every activity. So, at least once a class, I point it out and ask my students how what we are reading connects to it. Goal: do this in more classes.
3. Be able to laugh. It makes class more fun.
4. Have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish in each lesson. This is a goal for the week. I was reading a blog my my friend Kelsey (not about teaching) and I read this. Warning: If you click on that link, you may never be able to stop reading her blog. She's an AWESOMEAWESOMEAWESOME writer. And I don't just say that. So yes, I guess I'd never thought about that before. I think this week, I'm going to try to write my lesson goal for each class at the top of a paper and then tell them. We'll see how it goes.

Do you have any teaching tips?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Back to school

Here it is... the night before school starts. I find myself feeling inexplicably anxious, nervous, worried. I stop my thoughts and start to wonder why...

I think every break I vow to myself that this is the break when I will spend an hour every single day planning. I'll be so prepared I won't even know what to do with myself. I will establish a routine, be prepared for work while balancing my relationships, eat only when I'm hungry (and only healthy foods), go to bed every night by ten (still might make that tonight), exercise and have everything under control.

What an illusion.

But that's the temptation, right? To imagine that, at some point, in the distant or near future I will have everything figured out and live in total bliss. And then to live in a state of total discontent until I get ....... (x) there. And until I reach (x), where I wake up everyday feeling totally jubilant and refreshed and my hair is perfect and my house is always clean, I will slog away at some lesser version of my life that is characterized by compulsive facebook surfing as a coping mechanism.

But you know what? I had a great break, even if I didn't start my planning until last week. I cooked and hosted a Christmas dinner, hiked up a mountain in Utah, had really beautiful times with people I care about deeply, thought about my life and what might be next, read a TON of Sherlock Holmes, went for countless walks, did a yoga mala (that's 108 sun salutations), and spent plenty of time in the pajamas I'm wearing right now. (Yep, I own one of these and if I could wear it all the time, ...well I might. Maybe just once a week. Or twice) I learned a lot about myself over break and I wouldn't trade that for an hour of planning every day. It was so good.

So get yo'self OUT of here, anxiety! I am enough just the way I am today and I don't have to have everything figured out. Because life isn't found in some unknown, imaginary future I invent just so I can feel in control. Life is about NOW. Break was good. But now it's over. And school is here in just 11 hours! Seeing as how it's only 10:02, I might try to get to bed. It's a school day tomorrow.