You know, I always think that I am going to get used to the exhaustion that comes with school, but it never happens. And this week was a tough one.
In regards to last week’s post, I made minimal changes in the execution of the material. I haven’t started reading conferences - mostly because it kills me to pull them away from reading for a chat. I’m still working out how I want that to look.
Otherwise, we had a good week of revision. I was able to speak to multiple students as they worked on their diagnostic definition essay, and I LOVED it. We were able to have such incredibly sophisticated conversations about writing that I can’t wait to do it every day.
It’s the first full week, so I am preparing myself for new levels of tired. (But I’ll probably still be surprised, as I said).
This week, I am excited to get started with our Critical Reading unit. The plan is to start by talking about what responsible citizenship and reading looks like and what value it holds by having a discussion using a Question 1-like prompt about Fake News. Then, we’ll look at the mentor text for their next draft (“I Have a Dream”) before we learn about the rhetorical triangle. In other words, it’s a week to answer a lot of WHYs: Why we need to read. Why people write. Why purpose or intention matters.
This weekend, I spent hours and hours pouring over my plans to start using Standards Based Grading. I wrote up my own hybrid AP-ELA standards, determined proficiency descriptors, and made student handouts.
Teaching Sincerely takes a lot of risk - just like it takes flexibility. My school does not use Standard Based Grading. Rather, they use the traditional method: throw all the points in a pot and average it out. In my own professional learning this summer, my interest in SBG was reignited. I had gone to sessions on it before - at NCTE, I think - but the practicality of it seemed too daunting. Worrying about getting student buy-in, parent understanding, and admin approval had stopped me.
Not anymore. I am ready to grade students in a way that rewards growth and does not punish the struggles of a rigorous class. And I am ready for their grade to reflect their work.
Making decisions like this - to go against the flow and do my own thing - always come with a lot of anxiety. I’ve talked to colleagues, all of my students, my instruction coach, and still, I am nervous, but making purposeful changes like this are how I Teach Sincerely and adapt my own aspirations to the position I’m in. If I’m completely honest, risks like this are what keep me invested and committed.
I’ll keep you posted on this exciting new venture!