I decided to pick this prompt for my first week:
3. Talk about one or two specific things you plan on doing differently this year... and how specifically you are going to implement them/get the buy-in. Why do you want to do these things? (If you are a new teacher, what are two specific things you plan on doing this year?)
Oh boy how timely. I just found out on Wednesday that my 7th graders did terrible on the NJASK. I expected my 8th graders to do poorly, (long story) but I actually managed to improve them 66% despite the fact that only 31% were proficient. My 7th graders however were only 42% proficient when last year these same kids were 82% What the hell?
Ok, so I need to figure out what went wrong and do it quick. The only thing I can think of is that I don't have a really good record of their achievements. I started this job (my first teaching job) with a terrible curriculum and a terrible textbook for both grades. I don't have great preassessments, or benchmarks either.
So the first thing I am doing differently is making sure I am BACKWARDS planning! I am going to redo the assessments and then from there redo the unit plans and then redo the lessons. I know it is kind of a "Duh" but I feel like I would have been so much better off if I could have followed a textbook chapter by chapter and then tweaked it each year as I gained experience. Oh well.
The next thing I am doing is flipping my classroom. Now let me clarify this. It does not mean that every lesson will have a video lecture for homework and we will do worksheets in class. To me flipping means that the kids are going to work harder than me in class. I may record videos and show them in class and have them do practice in class and home. Or have them watch at home so we can work in class. I am not making a big "Introduction" of the flipped classroom to my students or parents, it just going to be the way we do things this year. I also plan on doing some PBL, and I am most definitely doing foldables in my class. Finally, I will also be doing a lot more practice timed tests. I am thinking of doing some centers and/or menus to get these timed tests in.
Now about the buy-in, that is going to be the hardest part. My new 8th graders had me last year and will not expect to work so hard (TOO BAD!) and my new 7th graders have a reputation of being very apathetic. The only thing I am thinking right now is to go with our school motto "Failure is not an Option!" I am going to really hold them accountable to that motto. I am envisioning many phone calls to parents and even group meetings with the Principal. Whatever it takes, because for me, Failure is NOT an Option!!!