Ugh. I’ve asked my Year 10s to blog all year, publish on WordPress, and submit their posts as assignments in Canvas. So I’m only writing this cause the boys made a good point when they asked me to. I am just as horrified by the idea of anyone reading mine as they are by theirs, but I know it’s for the greater good. So here goes . . .
I’m not sure how to rate my performance for the year, but I can definitely say my effort has been nearly off the charts. I spent a good deal of time in January planning out lessons for each class period from the end of January until the end of June. By doing this I was able to gauge which days we would have double periods, which days we would have House Comp days, holidays etc. This allowed me to always have a clear idea of where I wanted the boys to be and on which date I wanted them to reach that point. I especially liked dropping a bit of writing in the middle of film study or a bit of non-Macbeth reading when we doing Shakespeare. The lessons I developed also took into consideration the ebbs and flows of the semester and when the boys would be stressed or pressed for time with eternal commitments. In terms of performance, I’d have to rate my performance a bit lower than effort mainly since my performance is so closely tied to the boys’ performance and some did not perform as well over the semester as I thought (or hoped) they would. I learned from their reflections that I could’ve carved out more class time for their group work on their films and they would have preferred more performance opportunities for Shakespeare. I think the poetry unit was a nice balance of effort and performance especially since a lot of the boys distrusted the notion of developing their own poetry notes with my guidance and initially wanted to be lectured to. I guess that is also one of the things I am the happiest about the year — I think the only time I lectured was in December of the previous year when they were still year 9 students and I gave them notes on ‘narrative form’ and ‘how to write a script’.
What have I enjoyed about English? Look, I still check out the Introductions from the first week of school and the mis-en-scene activities. I loved the ‘One Sentence’ activity the boys completed. I thought the Macbeth translated performances were awesome. Going around the class and practicing the poetry viva voces made me proud of what the boys had taken in. Sharing Soundtrack for a Revolution and Dream Deferred were definite highlights as well as seeing the class evolve with thesis statements. The pleasant surprise of viewing first drafts of the films was a pretty unbeatable moment too. One of the biggest, proudest moments was watching a couple of guys really spread their wings with writing. Seeing them evolve from those first paragraphs on film in Term 1 to near perfect marks on the exam essays really makes it all worth it. I guess I had lots of high points, but I guess what strikes me most was the boys’ willingness to jump in and ‘do’ even when they were frustrated and overwhelmed by so much happening in our class and others’. Yes. I’d have to acknowledge that as a whole this bunch of guys wrote reflections and completed quote banks and thesis-ed themselves to death when most students would have thrown up their hands and walked away. I also know that there is a fine line between students’ deciding to complete work and deciding it has no intrinsic value for their learning. I guess I’ve enjoyed them finding value and trusting that I have their best interests at heart when I assign all the seemingly ridiculous tasks week after week . . .
Oops. I just noticed I am supposed to write what I like best/least on English and Film separately. Oh well, you’ll just have to take this jumble cause I ain’t re-writing this reflection.
What did I like the least? I guess those days when a breakdown between me leading the class and the class allowing themselves to be led occurred. Hated those days. I also least liked getting back student exams and getting hit with unexpected low scores. That’s pretty gutting. That’s when no matter how objective I try to be, I still feel a tinge of regret – that I am at fault. I also don’t like the emphasis of ranking students 1 – 200. I think it is ridiculous, demoralising, unrealistic and a complete waste of time and energy. I read one student’s blog and he said he was a bit disappointed in my teaching before the yearly exam because I hadn’t ‘taught him the exam’. But what he pointed out was that I taught him the course which would prepare him for the exam (with an arsenal of arguments and content, etc.). And so he ended up liking our approach. So what I like least is how hard it is to battle against the expectation (or hope) that I, or any teacher, will hand out information or lecture at students so they can spit it back onto an exam. I also least liked that class always seemed to end when we were in the middle of something (or I was in the middle of speaking . . . But most of all, I least liked getting the sense from some students that they have in some way failed or haven’t gotten what they would have liked out of the year. That is the aspect of teaching that blows.
Have I improved? Heck yes. Who hasn’t in this class? Seriously. If we took every single student in this class and anlaysed the difference between different ways. Whether it is filmic, or crafting and supporting arguments, or looking at the world around us in a slightly different light (which to me is the most important), we have all improved. I would say I have improved because the boys have improved. But that’s why I’m in the game, right?
Suggestions for next year? More homework. duh.
Actually the suggestions are coming through from the boys, and I’ve made it clear I will be following through. The biggest challenge will be in trying to keep To Kill a Mockingbird and implementing the suggestions regarding more time and work on prejudice as a whole – as well as getting more valuable film time. But I am up for the task. Will find a way. This is also how I would improve as teacher.
Any other comments? Yes. Speak your truth quietly and clearly. And listen to others . . .