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Three Good Questions For Teachers To Ask Themselves (& Answer Them Here If You Feel Like It)

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We ninth-grade English teachers had another great day of professional development with our school’s instructional consultant, Kelly Young at Pebble Creek Labs.

He started off the day asking us three questions:

What have you gotten better at this year?

What do you still need to figure out or work on?

What’s keeping your kids from making big time gains (that are within our control)?

It seems to me that these are good questions to ask ourselves at this time of the year (or, in fact, at anytime).

I thought I’d briefly share my responses, and invite readers to share yours in the comments section. I’ll compile everyone’s responses into a post in mid-April. Please leave your comment by April 15th. I’ll elaborate more on my responses in that post.

My responses:

What have you gotten better at this year?

I’ve gotten a lot better at teaching writing; identifying tech-related activities for our mainstream students that bring a value-added (the use of that term for discredited teacher assessments really makes me wary of using it) benefit to their academic work; showing more patience in classroom management; and differentiating instruction for students with challenges.

What do you still need to figure out or work on?

I need to do a better job at “transfer” — helping students see how they can apply what they are learning in our class to others classes and in their lives; differentiating instruction for students who have an appetite for bigger challenges; making relationship-building time for students who seem to be doing well and not have it all eaten up by those with the biggest needs; and I’ve always got to be conscious about talking less.

What’s keeping your kids from making big time gains (that are within our control)?

Our Small Learning Community (twenty teachers and three hundred students) has organized a mentorship program where a number of juniors (most are in my Theory of Knowledge class) are mentors to our ninth-graders. It’s had a tremendously positive impact on our ninth-graders, and I think it would be great if we could figure out a way to expand it in our SLC and throughout the whole school. Our SLC Lead Teacher, Rachel Schultz, has done an excellent job organizing it. Years ago, our school had was called an “Advisory” where we created time for teachers and students to do something like this, but had to end it for a variety of reasons.

Okay, now it’s your turn. How would you answer these three questions?

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

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