New-ish Classroom Strategies

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Midway through the first semester of school, I have to admit I find myself fighting some of the same battles in my classroom as I have for the last 9 years.  So much of what I am struggling with comes down to procedural matters; students missing work, never having enough extra copies (where do they all go?), spending too much time turning in and passing back assignments (even though we DO have procedures for these things), and the endless and thankless task of getting young people to just stop talking…October is rough, y’all.  In moments like these, I often fear my class is not challenging enough or interesting enough.  Upon reflection, though, I realize it is. Young people in my classroom are mostly engaged, and they do like me…they’re just kids, acting like, well, kids.

Teaching a sophomore English class is especially challenging as this is an EOC year.  Students are tested and checked, and progress monitored, and tested throughout the whole year.  Unfortunately, as many of us know, this takes away from the very instruction that could improve test scores.  As a result of this, I have developed a strategy that empowers student to track their own progress.  Every few weeks the whole class will go through their online, district wide assess.  As I lead them through the questions, which are aligned with specific ELA standards, we discuss and analyze thought processes in answering questions, and students record standards that they are regularly demonstrating understanding of.  From here, I am able to group students and work on specific skills that will help them grow to meet standards.

Thus far, this practice is going fairly well.  We are taking the district wide English 2 assessment later this week, so I am looking forward to seeing how students improve or grow.  Though I’m still struggling with questions of engagement, I know that I am doing right by students, and tailoring instruction to meet their needs.