Part of the Process

Thoughts on becoming a teacher.



I’ve had the opportunity to teach a few writing lessons with my 6th graders over the past several weeks. All of the lessons have been fairly short, but I have really enjoyed teaching them. The first one I had the chance to do was on goals. Every student set an academic goal for themselves in the fall, these were shared with parents at conferences.IMG_0204 They identified a goal, as well as things they needed to do to help them reach their goal, how they would know and two things that would help them stick to their goal.  I had the students return to those goals and reflect on their progress. I wanted them to write about whether or not they had reached their goal. If they hadn’t, did they need to modify it? Was it an attainable goal? Did they need to identify additional ways to stick with their goal? This type of reflection didn’t come easy to most students, but I think it can be a powerful exercise in thinking about your own learning and used as a way to promote ownership.

The next day, I let students know that we would all be setting new goals. This time students could choose an academic goal or a personal goal. I planned to model my own goal setting and let them choose if I they wanted me to write a personal or academic goal for myself. Not surprisingly, they all wanted me to model a personal goal. I asked the class for help with my own goal and to share ideas of how I could stick to it, they were eager to help me out! Every student set at least one new goal, and many students chose to set both a personal and academic goal. Many of the students set goals in the subject areas that they struggle in.

These goal sheets are printed on heavy card-stock and students keep them in their binders. I have seen students referring to their goal sheets on several occasions. I thought this activity was great because my students were engaged, we got to know each other better and it gave students a chance to reflect on their own learning and behavior. As the year goes on and my students are looking ahead to middle school, this ownership and ability to reflect is something I want to continue supporting.


The Wall!

Before the break, I was really looking forward to heading back to my main placement for a week. I ended up having a great week. I appreciated the chance to reconnect with my students, to see the progress they made and all the projects they were working on. The school I’m at had a big influx of students this past year and as a result, many classrooms are in portables. Being in a brand new portable has a few advantages, mostly heat and air conditioning related. I realized while I was back, that our class is kind of isolated though. Whenever I walk through the main halls of the school, I find myself lingering over the vibrant displays of student work. My students aren’t getting the opportunity to share their work in such a public way. Back in the portable, there was some student work displayed, but wall space was pretty much all used up. With the permission of my cooperating teacher, I decided what we needed to help this situation was a big space devoted to student work. A place that could highlight projects and work that students were proud of and one that would be immediately visible to any visitors coming in.

The Wall!   My Cooperating Teacher thought it would be a good idea to have the students name this new space. We started with a few suggestions, The Wall of Awesome, The Wall of Epic. As a class we brainstormed for several minutes and came up with many ideas: The Wall of !, The Wall of Fabulousness/Stuff/Greatness/Talent. This is sixth grade we’re talking about, so we also had the Wall of Swag, OMG! and Yolo! (of course). In the end the class voted and decided on The Wall!

I’m looking forward to seeing the showcased work when I return next week. I hope this gives the students in this class a bit of the recognition they deserve. When summer rolls around and I’ve had Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” stuck in my head for six months, I’m sure I’ll be appreciating the air conditioning in the portable even more.

UPDATE (2/9/14): The Wall!

It took me awhile, but I was finally able to get more than a few papers up on the “The Wall!”. The students in my class just completed a writing unit on Inclusion. This was a powerful unit and the students did a lot of deep thinking about empathy and understanding. Their final project for the unit was a five paragraph essay on the topic. They worked hard on these papers and I think every student wrote a paper they can be proud of. Yesterday, I hung all the papers up. As the students filed in this morning, more than a few gasped. They actually gasped! My cooperating teacher noticed a few students walk over to touch their paper. My teacher even invited parents to come check out the essays, if they were ever in the neighborhood. I loved it!