Today’s post in the latest of a series that I’ve been writing about this past year.
The previous ones have been:
This School Year Is Almost Over – Here Are My Reflections About 12 Changes I Want To Make In The Fall
Here’s A New Writing “Twist” I Plan To Add To Peer Tutors’ Responsibilities Next Year When Working With ELLs
Anonymous Evaluation Results From My Intermediate ELL Students
The 14 Online Learning Tools I Used Most This School Year & 2 I Want To Try In The Fall
5 Instructional Strategies That Worked For My Classes This Year
5 Challenges I Faced Teaching This Year & How I Did (Or Didn’t) Handle Them Very Effectively
This may be the last in the series, and I’d like to end it on a very positive note.
So, here are the highlights from this school year (not listed in any particular order):
1.Returning to school and having a classroom full of students. Though we had ended full distance learning the previous April, only a handful of students physically attended my classes at that time – most staying on Zoom. It was great interacting with students face-to-face again, and having face masks didn’t interfere at all with relationship-building, teaching, and learning.
2.Creating the conditions so that I substantially reduced the amount of work I took home with me. Though it was wonderful seeing students again, many continued to face pandemic-related challenges, and I was getting exhausted from supporting them (as well as by not having any substitutes available). One change I decided to make mid-year was spending less time at home on school work, and I was able to make that happen through a variety of ways:
- We began starting school twenty minutes later each day, and I was able to continue to coming in at the same time I had been coming in for the past twenty years and use that extra time for planning and grading.
- I’ve always had tons of students coming into my room at lunchtime. With COVID, eating inside my room was not an option, though some students still chose to come in and “hangout” without eating. I was gracious with them, and made it clear I had to use most of that time to plan and grade.
- I reduced participation in meetings during my “prep” period, and actually used most of that time to prepare.
- At least a couple of times a week, I was able to fit in short periods of time to plan and grade when my IB Theory of Knowledge students were doing independent work.
3. Working with peer tutors in my ELL classes. I’ve previously written about the benefits of having many peer tutors in my ELL classes this year, and I do regret not having these large numbers assisting my students in past years.
4. Seeing that all the new lessons I had created for my IB Theory of Knowledge classes during remote teaching actually worked very well face-to-face. IB cluelessly completely revamped the TOK curriculum during the height of the pandemic. It required a lot of time and mental bandwidth last year to adapt it so that it would work in distance learning, and was happy to see I didn’t have to redo it this year.
5. Having the second edition of The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide published, and it was double the size of the original. In addition, I was finally able to begin working on the fourth book in my series on student motivation.
6. Restarting our mentoring program. For years, my TOK junior students have mentored ninth-graders, and that program lapsed during our distance learning time. We just had an outside pizza party to celebrate the conclusion of a very successful “reboot,” and both mentors and mentees cleared gained a lot from participating over the past several months.
7. Though our successful eight-day strike was hugely disruptive to our students, their families and to us, it resulted in a dramatically increased sense of solidarity among all of us – teachers, classified staff, and families who sat-in and slept-in at the district office, as well as major improvements in staff and student working and learning conditions. I wish we hadn’t had to do it, and I hope we don’t have to go through it again. I don’t think we will because I suspect the strike’s momentum will result in election results that will alter the composition of our School Board. Though I’m a bit uneasy saying the strike itself was a highlight, its results clearly are….
What were the highlights for your school year?