It’s mid-April which means AP exams start in two weeks and the end of the school year is in sight. Perhaps I should be jumping for joy (ok a piece of me is) but mostly I’m already reflecting on what worked this year and what I need to do differently next year. I go through this process every year, identifying a million things I want to change up, but I forget them all by the time August rolls around again. So this year, I’m going to blog about my ideas to help hold myself accountable for making the changes come fall.
In no particular order, here are a few things I want to try or do better next year:
1. Training students to clean up after labs – time always seems to run out and I hear myself saying, “Don’t worry kids, get to your next class, I got this mess!” No I don’t, I don’t “got this mess,” I have no time to spare during the day, there are more important things for me to spend my time on such as grading lab reports (see #3).
2. Create an attendance board for my homeroom. I imagine this as laminated cards with student names that they flip over when they come in. Any names still face up are absent. I don’t know, I might be dreaming about this working, but I always seem to have my hands in an aquarium and/or helping a student with homework during homeroom, next thing I know that bell rings and I’m like uh-oh.
3. Help students improve their writing by providing better feedback on lab reports and free response questions. I’m interested in exploring the idea of video or audio feedback, but not sure of how to best and most efficiently do this – any ideas?
4. Keep up with absent students and their make-up work. I really don’t have too many potential solutions here, but I’ve got to get a handle on enforcing the school policy on late work. It’s just so challenging to figure out which students missed what when and how many days late it is?!
5. Using googledocs for bell work and exit slips. I’ve been trying it out this year, setting up a google slides presentation with a question on the first slide, every student then creates a slide with their name as the title and answers the question in the content area. I need to set up shared folders by class to streamline the process. Awesomely fast way to formatively assess where students are at and I like that students can see each other’s work/thoughts.
6. I have amazing students but I want to develop their self-discipline (read they chit chat too much and focus too little) and their risk-taking (read they are afraid to give wrong answers). I need some help with this one, maybe using Noise Down and Classdojo apps? But what about the risk-taking?
7. Finishing my AP curriculum prior to the day before the AP exam. This will never happen, but it gives me some giggles just thinking about it.
8. Using a file folder system to pass back student work. I think this might be worth the time/resource investment to set up, it might also help with my make-up work challenge.
9. I love embedding technology throughout my instruction and learning, and yet I never create email lists for my classes. It’s a little thing, but I’m doing it next year.
10. Most importantly, I want to velcro my expo markers to my whiteboards. I don’t know why, but I saw it on Pinterest and what if velcroed markers are the stamp of great teachers? I’m on it.
I’m sure I’ll add to this list over the next few months. What do you want to do differently next year?
Kerryane Monahan is a forever student, teacher of teachers, adventure-obsessed science educator who writes about science, education, leadership, teacher problems, student problems, curriculum, successes and anything else that skitters through her brain.