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Part Two: Answers To “What Are You Going To Do Differently Next Year?”

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Yesterday, I shared Part One of this post.

Six weeks ago I shared that I was going to start thinking about what I was going to do differently in the next school year, and I invited readers to also share their answers to the question: “What are you going to do differently next year?”

The thoughtful responses were overwhelming — fifty teachers and administrators shared their reflections. Because of that number, I’m writing this post in two parts. I’m publishing them in the order they were contributed.

I’ll be writing my answers to the question in an upcoming “Teacher Magazine” article, and will be linking to, and sharing excerpts from, this blog post and Part One. These answers are inspirational and educational!

If you haven’t already shared your response, please feel free to do so in the comments section of this post.

Here are readers’ answers to the question: “What Are You Going To Do Differently Next Year?”

Bev:

I will have a rubric for classroom behavior: expectations of what to bring to class, during class work and activities, when done with specific assignment/work for day what to do next, clean up after self, maintain safe work environment.

Less summative more formative assessments.

Smile since it looks like I will only have 4 preps!

wmchamberlain:

My main goal this coming year is to focus much more on student learning and much less on hardware/software problems. I spent way too much time this year on technical issues and students often were pushed to the side.

Laurie Fowler:

I am planning on working on my video production skills so I can teach them to my graduate and undergraduate students. I also plan to work on my blogging. Finally, I am undertaking a reading project related to The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.

Lisa Scott:

I teach middle school Social Studies to gifted students.

I plan to involve my students more in self-evaluation and reflection by using student blogs as e-portfolios. For a lesson about immigration, for example, a student-conducted podcast interview could be linked, along with a blog reflection that discusses the specific push and pull factors they noticed during the interview.

Not only will this help me students be more active in their own assessment, it will provide a public platform for feedback and help me to move toward a paperless classroom!

Donalyn Miller:

I am considering how to redesign my current reader’s notebook. This year, many of the sections were underutilized by students. I asked a few students for their notebooks at the end of the year, so I could look at how they were really using it. I am reflecting on what information I need from students and what I want them to record.

Sheila Kohl:

I teach 6th grade science and writing in Wisconsin. This past year we did a lot with technology- wikis, blogs, wordle, uploading videos, Twitter, podcasts, etc. This year I’d like to branch out and use the technology on a larger scale such as in student evaluations, student-led conferences, community service. My goal this summer is to imagine what that all might look in the new school year.

Steve Kabachia:

I teach secondary English & lead PD integration in my school. Next year I want to make academic vocabulary a larger focus of my teaching, help my colleagues connect web 2.0 tools with Marzano’s high yield strategies.

Trudy Norton:

I want my students to be self-motivated. For this reason I want to create lots of options for performance and assessment of standards.
We will continue to use Twiducate, Kidblog, and Spellingcity. I am going to spend time this summer working on open ended centers. I want my students to choose to inquire and create. Additionally I want to have my students write more, and for a wider range of purposes.

When students enter my room on the first day of school they will browse a wide variety of books on the tables. They will choose their seats by choosing a reading selection of interest. I plan on using this a a preliminary interest inventory, and hope that this will also stimulate student conversations. I have created book logs in Googledocs for my students that will make documentation and record keeping much easier.
The teacher I team with are working on Wiggio as a collaboration tool and plan to use the communication component for scheduling/facilitating parent conferences.

I am excited!!!

helena rosa:

i’m a preschool teacher, I enjoy working as a teacher and this year I will teach playgroup without leaving preschool.
my plans for next year: keep teaching in the same field with a more varied methods.

Dan:

My students get confused and frustrated when they have to go to too many places/technologies to do assignments. My goals for next semester are aimed at addressing this.

1. Reduce the number of technologies used.

2. Provide better instructions/training on using the technologies that we will use.

3. Organize the class better to reduce overlapping assignments and focus on reoccurring use of technologies throughout the semester to make students more comfortable with those used.

stephen neary:

I will be in the early part of my first year of retirement. I will continue my fight against the absurd reasons I had to retire after only five years of teaching. I probably will attack the last two course required for my masters in special ed. And, undoubtedly, I will be looking for useful things to do to supplement my meager retirement income. I also hope to be able to visit my new granddaughter and her family way over on the other side of the country, along with my friends and family who also reside back where I came from. Oh, I also hope to be able to get some of my bikes running again, probably not to ride again, but just to enjoy.

Dr. Joel Rainbow:

Just finished a 16 hour traing in using a set nine graphic oganizers to form connections among learning and facilitate the use of high order thinking. I wish I could provide a link, yet it is called Concept Connection Mapping. I hope to use the maps in nearly every lesson.

Betty C.:

I teach EFL in a business school in France. My students have to take the TOEIC exam, and under the pressure of the test (which does not determine whether they obtain their diploma, but they get a special distinction on it if they get a certain score) our final-year English sessions have become more like TOEIC boot camp. We try to infuse them with some interactivity and speaking activities, but they remain very exam-focused.
The thorny part of the problem is — it works! The students are quite motivated, and in 40 hours of class we manage to raise average scores by 100-150 points, which is way above the curve.

BUT…I think there has got to be a better way. I want our English class back! I don’t know if I’m going to lobby for extra hours, do TOEIC workshops outside of class, or create a TOEIC self-study scheme, but something’s got to give…

VRBurton:

My goal for the next schoolyear is to make sure that I put to use all that I learn for the betterment of the faculty, students and therefore the school.
I plan to have a definite Professional Development plan to assist the faculty; I will have Kagan structures pre-planned and in place for weekly teambuilding/classbuilding activities; and I want to be sure that my lessons are created using Schlechty’s design qualities so that the majority of my students are Strategically Compliant. I’ve share more here.

Shireen:

Although my southern hemisphere year is still continuing, next semester I intend to continue whetting my colleagues’ appetites about the value of social networking in education. I keep emailing useful links and many are already curious about where I get ideas for using tech from.

Mike:

We ended school a long time ago, so here is an excerpt from a longer reflection on the year.

My hope for next year is to spend more time building community. I have a tendency to get tunnel vision and exclude some of life’s details in pursuit of a goal. In the past I’ve always tried to take periodic breaks from class and have a round table discussion with my students about anything except science/math/etc. I let that slip this year in favor of trying to get more done. While I felt pretty happy with what we accomplished, I didn’t feel like I connected with students as well as I could have. Next year, I’m going to bring back the round tables and spend a little more time building relationships. I think that bringing greater balance will help my classes more and we’ll get just as much, if not more, accomplished.

Laurie Fowler:

I plan to have my students blog more. They have good ideas and lots of questions and they need a place to express themselves. Also, I plan to figure out a better way to share information with the class when I find a new tech site or link that I think would be helpful.

Dianna Neal:

I am a special education teacher and my district has 1:1. I am planning to train students to video my classes. I want to edit them and put them online for students who need to review or for those who are absent.

MrsBMG:

I teach 6th grade: mainly math, but also reading and language.

I blogged about this exact topic a little over a month ago =)

I’ve still been adding to my Google Doc!
I want students to be guest bloggers on my classroom blog so it’s not always me spewing out the information.
I also plan to use KidBlogs next year instead of just one classroom writing blog.

Kevin Hodgson:

I am coming to realize that I need to strengthen my reading curriculum and shift towards more online reading skills with my students. This comes to light as I am part of the Massachusetts New Literacies Institute and the research shared here around young people and online reading has been helpful for me as I think through this issue of how to help my students not just navigate, but comprehend and use online reading skills to gather information and then create something from what they have learned. I think I have often just assumed they know what they are doing (even though I sort of knew that was not true– just watch a kid search for information and you will see the scattershot approach). So, for next year, I will start to move towards integration of online reading skills with my sixth graders. And I already have a curriculum plan forming ….

Carlos Fernandez:

My goals for this next year is to look at differentiated instruction in more detail to better meet the needs of my students. I also plan on coming up with new reading strategies to get some of these kids back to reading books.

Jeffrey Shoemaker:

This coming year, I plan on trying some new things. I am a gifted intervention specialist, and in my classroom we ask a lot of questions. So this coming year, I am planning on making a question wall. This where my students can post a question and either they or another student can do some research to answer it.

Ms Balconi:

Next year, I will require my students to learn how to show their work on their problems, and will not give them the credit if I do not see the work. They will also need to demonstrate more than one way to solve a problem. On each problem, they will show me how to solve it at least two ways. This will enable me to see their thinking, and what topics they need to focus on.

Another topic I am working on is teaching to the TEKS, and not to the standard state test. The pressure is immense in public schools for students to pass the state test, so the school may get money from the government. I understand the importance of this, but I think it has potential to limit teachers in what they are asked to do, and this in term limits our students from really learning the topics they need to.

My goal is to teach them the math, so they will not need to worry about the test, but instead learn the math. When we learn something, we can do it again, and add to it, like riding a bike, or tying shoes. Math is something a lot of students struggle with, and I think part of this comes from being spoonfed the topic so they can memorize it, and put it back on the test, which is not the way it is supposed to be.

Thanks to everybody for contributing, and remember, if you haven’t responded yet, you can always leave your answer in the comments section of this post!

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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