Reflections on my progress towards my 8th English essential learnings

My goal this year was to have students evaluate me in the same way that I evaluate them. I wanted to model the reflection and learning process since I know that I’m not the best at “discussion” “reading analysis” “writing organization” or “research.” Sometimes I forget to do proper citations. Sometimes I dominate discussion. Sometimes my writing is….well, not a paragon of excellent communication.

And so, at the 5 week mark, I asked my 8th grade boys and my Writing Workshop class to evaluate my progress towards the same goals they are striving toward. What follows are screen shots of the summaries of the data with a short reflection below each. My students also reflected on their personal blogs on their progress after reading my feedback to them on each trait in BlueHarvest (BTW, thank you ThinkThankThunk for the gift of BlueHarvest! I shall sing its praises in another post).

I am glad that my boys think my presentation has been effective and strong. So much of what I do in my writing has to do with how it looks, particularly when I’m working on lesson plans for the blog. I will continue in the vein I have been working. I think those who said “not yet shown” are thinking about my MLA format that I’m encouraging them to work on with their papers. I have not demonstrated that to them, except on the model sheet that I provided, so that might be something I can do better.

My writing conventions have also been seen as strong. I really try to set an example for my boys about conventions so that they can see how to use them properly. I wonder if I have made any egregious mistakes that my boys have caught/noticed?

Sentence fluency is important, especially in giving directions, which is what I’ve been mostly doing with my students. I have noticed that a few students took this survey with the mindset that they were evaluating themselves instead of me. Oops! Looks like my directions weren’t that clear. Perhaps I need to work more on my sentence fluency!

I think some of the rankings on developing that I got for word choice have to do with the fact that some of my students were writing about themselves. One student wrote, “When we gave our speeches i guess for our books i was a little chaky [sic] with connecting to the reader but other than that i thought i did pretty good with the awareness and respect aspect of it.” I think that as a writer, I certainly can continue to improve my word choice, however!

On looking at my feedback on Voice, I notice that some of my students don’t really know what voice is (or how to describe it) based on their descriptive feedback to me. However, some wrote, “I know exactly who is writing it and you right [sic] just the way you talk,” and “I can picture you actually speaking to me when i read what you write.” How flattering! I think we can work on what voice looks like when we start to work on poetry and the boys will write their own poems….

Some of my students find my blog very organized. They write, “You have very good organization, and it does enhance the central ideas”
and “all of the links make it easy to find what you want.” However, on the flip side there are a few of my students for whom the organization of my blog isn’t helpful: One student wrote, “sometimes on her blog i dont understand much of it” I wonder what I could do to make the blog more clear? Write in summary instead of notes? Write more details? Hmmm…. I think I need some more feedback about this.

Based on the feedback, I notice that results are mixed about my ideas in my writing. For some of my students, my ideas are clear and hold their attention. “Everything makes sense and all your ideas are relevant. I know what I am reading, and it holds my interest until I am done reading the blog or the BlueHarvest post.” But for others of my students, my ideas are unclear. “Can usually figure out what the directions are but don’t get all the details.” I’m thinking that if I write a summary instead of listing the directions, this method might help more of my students understand the details…. am I right?

My boys were in three camps on Research. About half of them said that they had not seen me do this (which is true, I have not cited anything for them), and then about 45% said that they knew I could do it well because I helped them with their citations. The remaining 5% made comments that were a bit off topic but still helpful for me. Apparently, my students like that I’m using funny videos to teach vocabulary words. Yeah!

My students clearly let me know that I use body language (hand gesturing especially) when I communicate, sometimes for the better: “You always move around when you speak and give us hand motions to help us understand what you are saying.”  However, one student wrote, “you do well when speaking but at times  you are inconsistant [sic].” and I’m really curious as to what he means by inconsistent. Am I inconsistent in my presentation or in my directions? One of my favorite comments was, “Sometimes you may slip up and go on tangents. But where would we be without tangents?” AMEN brother!

So my students think that I am mostly on time to class- I have been late once or twice- and they say that I do a good job of being prepared to teach every day. One student wrote that he always knew what the lesson was but sometimes had a hard time finding out the homework. I think that is a weakness of mine that I can work on: being more clear about what the homework is. I need a strategy for a place to post and a time to communicate! Help!

On another note, a student wrote, “It is so hard to play games cause your always walking around the room, no im kidding. I mean it is common sense not to mess round, but when we where not supposed to chat today i chatted before and then i said peace as we where leaving which is pretty good for self restraint.” What an honest, and helpful reflection. I’ll keep walking around to continue to curtail the game playing, and I have not lost hope yet for a peaceful and mature union 8th grade boys and google docs! 🙂 I think the reading comprehension feedback was a little tough for my boys because they’ve never seen me read something I haven’t read. It would be tough for them to give me feedback on this, but perhaps when we start doing some more sharing of SSR and some work with The Odyssey, they’ll be better able to see my reading comprehension skills.

I got a lot of mixed results on this one, and I think it is because we haven’t annotated as a class and most of my students have not seen any of my texts in which I have made notes. Perhaps one day soon….

Based on the feedback from the boys, I think I’m doing a pretty good job in discussion. This comment is illustrative of what most of them said, “She makes us all participate which is a good idea to get us all involved in the topic as much as the others and herself.” I hope that I can continue to do that!

From the best, “You always provide leadership, but you also take ideas from us” to the confused, “?” I am learning that I needed to do a bit more frontloading about each of these questions with my kids so they knew how to answer. For the next one, I’ll be sure to make sure every child knows what I’m asking. I think creating the rubrics for these essential learnings will be a helpful step.

Last but not least, the quote “I’m pretty sure you know every single one, that’s why your are teacher” pretty much sums up the responses. Yep, I do know em! Thanks boys!

Some big take aways for me:

1) Work on communicating homework and make the school blog more clear with directions.

2) Frontload surveys like this more fully with my students so that I get valid feedback from them ALL!

3) Learning is SLOW. I probably should cut down on some of my essential learings. Will we get to them all this year? I don’t know!

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About epdwilliams

Junior High English Teacher The Westminster Schools
This entry was posted in Education. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Reflections on my progress towards my 8th English essential learnings

  1. Pingback: Ms. Dobbs’ Reflection on your 5 week Feedback | 122 West: Essential Learning

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