I looked over a checklist of qualities good teachers have. I’m always looking to be a better teacher. And, I like to think that I know my flaws.
What does it mean to have high expectations of my students?
I want to see improvement in students’ critical thinking skills (assess and evaluate), their communication skills, and their ability to apply information and skills to a wide variety of problems. I want them to turn their work in on time and to turn in work they are proud of. I want them to participate in class discussions and show they are interacting with the text (getting something out of it even). I want them to disagree with the traditional interpretations of literature and find textual support; I want them to agree with the traditional interpretations of literature and find textual support. I want them to be able to effectively explain their ideas and find support for their point of view from a variety of sources. I want them to become smart consumers of information and various websites or media. I want them to take information from history class and science class and use it in arguments in English. I want them to write solidly built sentences and paragraphs on short-answer tests for science and math and health.
It’s my job to get my students up to the level they need for functioning and succeeding in the world outside of high school.
Objectives and Outcomes: Goals
Currently my goals are tied to Common Core National Standards which most teachers agree are “aspirational” rather than realistic.
We want our students to take in information, weigh its sources, and evaluate its content. We want our students to take examples from the text and explain what those examples show and how they relate back to the answers.
It’s not about hitting every little goal. It’s about hitting the skills over and over from totally different angles until they become a sort of mental muscle memory.
How do we engage students?
We can’t get every student’s attention every day. It sucks, but it’s honest. We don’t always know the struggles they have outside of school or the social issues they may be facing at school. We may not be the type of teacher they learn best from. School is a proving ground for kids where they have to learn to balance their dislike against what they need to learn for some nebulous future.
I try to improve the classroom experience constantly. Every summer I revise my unit lesson plans, tweak the application and the expectations. I read fiction and nonfiction and the news to find new ways into the material or skill sets I focus on. I find different ways to approach grammar or the writing process on blogs or at workshops or by talking to other teachers.
I’m willing to get better.
How do we build strong relationships with students?
I ask questions. I get to know kids over time. I read some interesting things that they’ve written.
I recognize that I see a small part of who they are. They have a face they show at school, a face that can change from teacher to teacher. It isn’t the same face they show their family or their friends. As long as I recognize this, as long as I sincerely try to help the move forward, then I’m doing my job.
Ultimately, students need to be treated like human beings.