Change is good. And scary.
I’m starting my school year completely out of my comfort zone, in a new school, with completely new (to me) students and staff. I’m really, really going to miss my students at Sanborn, but I have faith that they’re in good hands.
I’ll return to sob at their graduation.
I’m teaching two different courses this year: Introductory Writing (9-12th grade) and a co-taught American Studies class. My co-teacher and I have a lot in common in regards to teaching style and management, and it already feels like we’ve been teaching together forever.
In both courses, on our first day, I gave all of my new students a survey on their reading history (linked here). From this, I gathered that 60% of my 93 students had “faked” 75-100% of their assigned reading before this year.
That’s absolutely not the fault of any of their teachers before me. I fake-read in high school. I’ve had students fake assigned texts too, and despite my best efforts, it’ll happen again.
Thanks to technology, it’s become much easier for students to “fake it,” and we’ve got to figure out how to motivate them to STOP IT. Because we can’t measure reading competency if our students aren’t really reading. We’ll get there.
Summer Reading and Writing Workshop
My American Studies students were assigned to read half of Jeff Bauman’s memoir Stronger as a summer read, and were asked to come into class with a journal entry this first week.
You know what that means, right? Writing workshop.
Workshop days are my favorite days, and a workshop day as the third day of school is what Teacher Dreams are Made Of. My students eased into our workshop well, and provided their peers with quality feedback on the third day of school. I cannot wait to bring the process into Introductory Writing.
Reading in Writing Class
I am incorporating choice reading in my Introductory Writing class. Some of my students found that a little confusing, asking, “Wait. This is writing? Why are we reading?”
I told them that better readers make better writers.
Those students spent this past week browsing through choice books in a book pass, doing Quick-Writes in their journals (Thank God I saved the prompts from last year), and beginning their choice books.
By our third class, two students had read half of the books they’d chosen THE PREVIOUS DAY, and one senior proudly proclaimed that he, “ACTUALLY READ FOR PLEASURE LAST NIGHT!”
So far, in these first four days, I’ve had conversations with students about great books, had conversations about boring books, and also had motivating (for me) conversations about avoiding books.
As unfamiliar and scary as it is to jump into a new school, I’m also feeling proud, hopeful, and optimistic. My new colleagues have been kind and welcoming, and my new students have already made progress.
It’s going to be a great year.