Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day of Transition

Today was a transition day at school. Normally, we have 4 periods each day for 85 minutes a class. This was the first day of the new semester and so we had all 8 periods. They do this because about 1/4 of the student's schedules change at the semester and it makes it easier for everyone to find their new classes. I gained about 6 new students overall and hopefully they will settle in nicely with my routine.

With having shorter class periods today, and because of the new semester and the inauguration of a new president, I decided to use this opportunity as a teachable moment in class. It was interesting to see those students who were really into what was happening and those that could have cared less. Regardless of whether President Obama will be a great President or not, today was historic. I kept assuring my students that this was one of those days that their kids would ask them what they were doing when President Obama was sworn in.

Only two of my classes were really able to see any of the event. During 3rd period we watched the swearing in of President Obama and 4th period was able to see his entire address.

However, because of all the new "change" today I decided to pose a few questions to my students:
  1. What do you like about this class?
  2. What would you change about the class? Why?
  3. What can I (Ms. Boivie) do to help you be more successful in this class?
  4. What are your goals for the 3rd and 4th quarter? Be specific
  5. Other comments and suggestions about how we can make class better?
After school I read all their responses. Of course, I got the typical "don't give us any homework," "the work is too hard." "I hate vocabulary cards." "Let's play more games," etc. My students really had dismall semester exam grades and then after reading their responses to the questions I was a feeling stuck. I try very hard to make class engaging, exciting and applicable but I know that for most of my students it is not hitting the mark. I intrinsically know that my students enjoy my class and most of them stated as much, but I want to make changes to my teaching so that they are able to connect to the information on a deeper level and I don't know the best way to approach it.

A few of the students had some good suggestions, but the things they suggested would just tack on hours a week of work for me to do and I am not looking to spend more hours teaching, but modifying what I already to and make it work better for them.

My dilemma is one I will have to mull over for a while as I transition into this new semester. I imagine that our new president has similar thoughts about how he is going to help fix the problems currently plaguing our nation. But for tonight, I am sure he has plenty of parties to attend and I have a good book that I will continue to enjoy.

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