A head start to a new year

I finished my education degree in 1999. Back then a requirement of our practicums was to write what were called ‘reflections’ on our teaching practice. I hated the thought of writing them. Like most of my classmates, I felt that I was ready to ‘just teach’ and that writing about what I had done was just a make-work project.

However, being the good student I was (I can hear the groans that my classes would give me at that!), I always did them regardless of my personal feelings. And inevitably, after sitting down to write them, I felt like I really had learned something in the process. I liked talking about my mistakes and my successes. I liked thinking back about how to do it differently. I liked the way it forced me to slow down and really think. Now, 11 years, many different schools, varied subjects and thousands of students later, I feel like I need to return to reflections.

This is a big school year coming up for many different reasons, but for me, especially, on a personal level for my practice. The more I thought about the upcoming year, the more I wanted to challenge myself and by extension, my students, with some changes to my teaching.

First up is the adoption of edmodo. Edmodo is “a secure social learning network for students and teachers”, according to their website: www.edmodo.com. After attending their online conference last week (#edmodocon), I’m even more energized to try out. I have used a google site in the past to communicate with students and a posterous blog to communicate with parents. I’m hoping to use edmodo to blend the two together. Originally I had planned to only introduce the website to my junior classes, but after the conference, I’m considering expanding to all my grade levels.

Second, I’m teaching Math 8 again for the first time in many years. With the help of a learned colleague who suggested the idea, I have decided to try flipping my math classroom. There is a myriad of websites talking about this idea at the moment, so I won’t go into detail about it (mostly because I’m still deciding on how I plan to implement it!), but a great introduction can be found here: www.flipteaching.com.

Lastly, obviously, there is this blog: this chance to reflect out loud and publicly. Honestly, I resisted the whole idea because it seems terrifying to me, but how can I, as a teacher, demand something of my students (like I do with almost any type of public display of their work, be it presentation, wiki, blog etc.) that I am not willing to risk doing myself. So, here I am, reflecting.

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