In my opinion there are two things a teacher can do to improve their teaching and have a better classroom experience.
2. Say YES.
Today I want to talk about reflection. (Say YES, is coming soon...)
Today was one of those days. It followed a SUPER AWESOME lesson on the Declaration of Independence (found here) and unfortunately turned out just blah. (Although part of this could be that I hadn't seen my 8th graders in 5 days...block schedule is murder on a holiday weekend!)
The students were required to do more independent work with two different sources that had different opinions. The problem was, they weren't getting it. I'm still not sure if this is because they truly don't understand what to do, or because they want to be spoon fed answers so that everyone gets an A. Honestly, it's probably both.
Now to my point of this post. Reflection.
I could just sit here and create a post about why kids today want all the answers and how no one wants kids to EVER fail, so that creates teens who don't want to work and just want everything handed to them.
I could say that kids today are just lazy.
It is very easy for teachers to pass the blame of a poor lesson on to the students. But that doesn't make a better classroom. The students end up getting the same poor lessons, and the teachers just continue to get mad because of "kids these days..."
Reflection is something that will make a better teacher and an overall better classroom because it is ongoing.
But it is hard.
You have to take a good HONEST look at your lesson or activity and try to figure out what didn't work.
Then you have to fix it.
About half way through my class today I figured out how to fix it. How to make it better. In fact, how to make it awesome.
(Awesome in "teacher vocabulary" not teen talk, because my idea involves preparing the students throughout the entire unit to write an essay at the end. They don't think it's awesome. For some reason anytime I mention that they are going to have to write, there are groans and moans like I just told them they were going to have creamed spinach for lunch.)
The good news is, some things, methods and delivery I can change right away. Daily work instruction and modeling to get the results I want, and be SURE that the reason for a poor lesson, wasn't my approach. The problem is that to make the entire unit awesome, I can't do until next year, when I start again. This unit is almost over, it would be unfair for me to try to force an essay on them, which I haven't prepared them for. However, that doesn't mean I can apply the methods to future lessons and units :)
In the mean time, I have taken notes, written down what I want to do and how things need to change. And am beginning to rethink everything for next year.
HONEST reflection is a MUST for any teacher who wants to continue to improve and make their classroom better. Good teachers do things that are difficult. It can be very difficult to look at yourself, your teaching methods, and your poor lesson with open and honest eyes to discover what the REAL reason was.
Then go to work and make it better.