I would have to say my ‘writing roots’ didn’t really get started until college. I got the writing bug in college, alongside some inspiring teachers-turned-professors who were passionate about helping their students inspire their students. In that environment, writing was democratic—anyone could do it, anyone could teach it, and everyone is a writer. Not all educators have that mentality. I’ve spoken to quite a few who would not call themselves writers, even though they have things to say and stories to tell.
As I bounce along the road of teaching, one concept that stays with me is to repetitively tell my students, “You are writers. You’re writing. That makes you a writer.” It is important for them to see themselves in that way, because the mindset that what they have to say isn’t worth the simple act of writing it down is ridiculous. Recently, I’ve decided that instead of me giving them the feedback, that I would let them give me the feedback. I should have developed a pretty thick skin by now, right? I thought that I was going to hear, “It’s good. I wouldn’t change it.” That is not what I heard (well, from most of them).
As the struggle to make it until Thanksgiving continues, I have a good problem—I’m satisfyingly tired and excitedly hungry to see what happens in my classroom this year. I can’t say I’ve felt like that (ever).
With the push of National Board, I’m being forced to think and do things I’ve never done before. A lot of this hinges on how I incorporate assessment in my classroom. The questions I had to ask myself were difficult because I knew the answer already: Do I know where every student is academically in my class? Nope. Am I more aware of where they are now? Kind of. It’s a work in progress. Do they always know how they will be assessed? Nope. Am I differentiating? Giving accurate feedback? Getting students to self-direct their learning? No, no, and no. These past couple of weeks have allowed me to dig in and figure out how well I’m meeting the architecture of teaching model (see below) the NB requires all teachers to follow. I have fine-tuned rubrics, instructions, and differentiation resources. I’ve been really analyzing how to give students feedback (thanks Mark Barnes and Starr Sackstein) and seen improvement because of it. They are owning their learning, and that’s good too. Now, I have to see the outcomes in student work for it all to be legitimate. I can’t wait to stick some good stuff on here for you all to see.