Now that the diplomas have been handed out and Room H-9 is packed for the summer, I took some time to sit awhile and think. What went well this year? What was a flop? If I could do it over again, what would I change?
My school year reflections, in no particular order:
• My move to bring more lively fun to class with Quarter Trios was a total success. I sometimes felt like a game show host, but I really enjoyed the trio competitions which strengthened our classroom community right from the start. The idea is definitely a keeper, though I need to make more Brain Teaser slides this summer because I ran out in mid-May.
(UPDATE: Brain Teasers Vol. 4 is now available here – click here!)
• 20Time was a win again this year for me (10 videos in 12 weeks – heck yeah!), but it wasn’t successful for all of my students. Some projects were amazing, while others were not. I’d hoped that adding accountability teams in this second year would help get all students on board, but I’m starting to think that some kids just aren’t interested in being innovators. Maybe some of them really do want to grow up and work in a cubicle farm, checking boxes and being told what to do by a mid-level manager with a clip-on tie. And is that even such a bad thing? I mean, we need that layer of labor to keep the world running, right? So I continue to fail in my attempts to turn every consumer in my classroom into some kind of a creator, but now I’m also wondering if this should even be my goal.
• Allowing two students to share a single 20Time project was a mistake. I’ve always envisioned 20Time to be a solo endeavor, believing that two students couldn’t really share the same level of passion for the exact same project. Two of my freshmen, though, earnestly convinced me otherwise and I reluctantly agreed to allow them to work together on a Lord of the Rings spoof video. Things were looking good…for the first two weeks. Then, one kid went on a field trip during a work session. The other kid got sick and missed two entire weeks of school. They were too busy to get together on weekends and they disagreed on their focus; one spent weeks building props while the other composed background music. Neither ever produced a script and the project sputtered. If I had it to do over again, I’d suggest that they both script and film competing spoofs and we’d have a mini-viewing party at the conclusion of the 20Time speeches. Lesson learned – future 20Time projects will remain a solo experience.
• I maybe/sort of/kinda like learning stations. In December, I broke some of my poetry lessons into a two-day station creation rotation and the kids loved it. I want (need?) to fold more station opportunities into my classroom, but they take so much time to build. Guess that’s what summer vacation is for, eh?
• Due to scheduling needs, I taught only freshmen this year and ended up really, really missing my juniors. Yes, my freshmen are sweet and funny and always eager to play my games. My juniors, though, are wise and edgy and able to think much more deeply. I’m (mostly) a sweetheart with my freshmen, but I can get away with being pretty salty with my juniors. I missed that side of my teaching personality.
• I blogged a lot this year and it took over my life there for a bit in the middle of the spring semester when I was posting three times a week, feeding Instagram, and building the YouTube channel. My family has gently suggested it’s time to set the laptop aside and I have to agree. I’m not unplugging completely, but it’s definitely time to scale back a bit and allow my battery to recharge.
In all, Year 18 was a good one – a lot of laughter, some tears, a couple paper cuts, and (best of all!) no vomit.
How about your year? In the comments below, I’d love if you shared something that worked great and/or something you’d do differently. No judgment – I promise.
Vacation on, everyone!