Just thinking

In a perfect world, I would not have to grade students like the one today who forgot her paper and symbolic mask, but she’d had a perfectly horrible weekend. (Still, if we don’t deduct a grade for late work, they’ll take advantage of us and continue this pattern, right?) Or the one who demonstrated so well her understanding of symbolism but forgot to cite her page numbers and sources.  (Because the assignment said, CITE those page numbers, even if you are more excited about showing your understanding in other ways.) Or the boy who has lost all confidence in his writing but can explain to me the theme/plot/characterization of the book in minutes. (But if you don’t learn to write now, you won’t be able to go on to ninth or tenth grade, or you know, COLLEGE.)

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to assess them but could sit down on the carpet tomorrow and try it again. Because sometimes learning take time, and we don’t always “get” it by 2:40 on September 28.

Actually, in my perfect world, I wouldn’t give grades at all.

I wonder if in their perfect world, they’d do the work, if they didn’t get any grades.

I’d like to think so. Hey it’s my dream, right?

An unexpected pleasure

connectingPart of my job here is to monitor and “fix” issues with FA Blogs, though my fixing usually means  calling/skyping/emailing @twoodwar or @jimgroom for help.
Each night I check into the wpmu dashboard to see if anything has popped up, scan the bluehost logs for errors, and then skim my Google Reader feed for all the posts and comments that have been posted on FA Blogs that day.
Now that we’re up to 280 blogs in grades 6-12, it’s taking longer and longer.
But–this has become my favorite time of day.

From the sixth-graders, I see fun stuff like this and this. My eighth-graders’ vocabulary “podcasts” have also started showing up along with wonderful reflections from their novel study.  I move on to Upper School and see that an author has commented on one of @snobles‘s ninth-grade blogs. The seniors also continue to post about their Exhibits, sharing the ups and downs of their tw0-year focused study on various topics.

I notice older siblings commenting on their younger brothers’ and sisters’ blogs, and friends visiting each other’s blogs to share thoughts.

But what I love, absolutely love, is when I discover the blogs of my former students. Last year’s ninth-graders are now posting in British Lit and World History, and my eighth-graders from a few years ago are reflecting in 11th grade American Lit. On their blogs, I get to watch them grow as thinkers and writers.

When I met with Jim last year and envisioned FA Blogs, we talked about this being a space for students to build a long-term online portfolio. But I never realized what a joy it is  to be able to peek into my former students’ lives. I can continue to talk, learn, and share with them by simply checking my feed.

I have an inside view others don’t have, and I love what I’m seeing.

image credit
Uploaded on September 14, 2007
by DanBrady

One week down

And the answer is: it’s all good.heart
What was the question? Oh yeah, how’s your teaching going??
I must admit I was not too sure about moving back to 8th grade this year. For the past four years, I have had a new assignment each fall, requiring me to prepare new lessons, and figure out new schedules, systems, and rules.
But I have to admit, this feels right.
The students are amazing. So inquisitive, curious. Eager to talk and debate.
Already, we’ve shared “wow” quotes from the book we’re reading, Lord of the Flies. They have discussed what “civilized society” means and whether we can ever have a “perfect society.”
Most like to write. Really write.
My biggest challenge is not boring them, keeping them engaged. They want to participate and learn. I owe them the best I can give them.
I wish, oh I wish, I had laptops for them to use in the classroom. Not every day. Not all period. But I can see already how not having them will affect my teaching. I miss our 1:1 program in the upper school.
But I’m not focusing on the negatives right now. I’m having too much fun.