Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reflections on Ending the Year

I have my last day with my AP Lit students today -- always bittersweet. I have spent the last week pushing them to reflect and reflect some more -- to process their life in high school as best they can before they head off to college. They have written short letters about their favorite readings so teachers next year can use the letters to spark extra interest in their new students. They have written poems about their memories (modeled on Walt Whitman's "There Was a Child Went Forth") from their whole life, and one of my favorite moments today is when I give them back to them -- printed in color with a pretty layout of course but, more importantly, attached to a poem I wrote about their class this year and each of them. Finally, they have written letters to their future selves that they will find in their mailboxes one day in the coming years ... (truth be told: I always mail last year's packets on the day the current seniors start their packets just so I don't forget, but I don't need to give away all my secrets to them ...).

And I am now heading into my own summer where I hope to achieve at least a part of the reflection I have asked my students to do. Elaine Plybon wrote so truthfully about the reality of a teacher's summer, so I wonder what I will have actually achieved by summer's end. But I have spent this school year really thinking about my teaching, something the luxury of years of old lessons at my fingertips has allowed me not to always do. And reflection is to me the single most important piece of being a good teacher. None of us are perfect, and no lesson is perfect, no matter how well it goes. We ask our students to learn and grow, and we must do the same.

So, here are my goals for my reflection this summer:
  • I will revisit lesson planning by reading Understanding by Design
  • I will figure out how to add The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to my AP class to add some reading level challenge that I think is lacking
  • I will read 2 novels about other cultures (still deciding what these are!)
  • I will research the writing approach, 6 Traits of Writing
  • I will keep my blog current and keep up with everyone on Twitter

Now that I have written them down, I have to do them! What are your reflection goals for the summer?


  1. Thanks to twitter, I just discovered your blog and passed it on to our English Department. I have added you to my google reader account.

  2. ehelfant: Thanks for finding me and spreading my blog to other English teachers.

  3. Good luck in your summer endeavors - hopefully my blog post will give you motivation to prove me wrong! Even if you don't accomplish it all, you'll learn something in the process of attempting it! Have a great summer!

  4. eplybon: I will let you know if I have broken the teaching curse of the summer :)