I have one class this year that has caused me a bit of frustration. Not because they are noisy or disrespectful, but for quite another reason. The problem is not that I feel they are not learning – in fact, when looking over their performance they have done just fine. In fact maybe thats what gets me – the class feels satisfactory, and no more.
When I came to my current school, one of the things I told people was that I wanted to be at a school where the focus was not on achieving a minimum in the classroom, but maximizing my impact on kids. And though I have a long way to go, my job has felt more like the latter these last two years. Except for this class. Frustration.
I have been relying on advice from mentors both physical and electronic: avoid blaming students, identify specific breakdowns, consider how teacher actions contributed to the classroom culture. My reflections have bubbled the following things to the top of my mind:
- I wasn’t explicit enough about how my expectations for their thinking were different from their pre-high school classes.
- My lesson planning for this class was less than what this group needed. I didn’t recognize early enough that they needed more than I was giving them.
- I wasn’t able to leverage personal interactions into the class culture I wanted, as I have been able to do with other classes. I need to utilize other ways to create the kind of culture necessary for what I envision my class to be.