Reflective Teaching Challenge Day One: Goals for the Year

Reflective Teaching Challenge

Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or abstract as you’d like to be!

For perhaps the first time in my career, I will be going into a school year with very few changes to my schedule, but my role has certainly been redefined.  I have been a department chair in the past, but this is my first year of being in charge of certain projects and requirements and working with a team of more than four teachers.  Additionally, I have taught seniors and freshmen before, but never at this accelerated level or pace; the rigor is what defines the change, not the grade level.  Finally, I have taught AP Language & Composition, but I feel far more confident this year because of having experience on my side and having a stronger comprehension of how to help move my students from 2s and 3s to 3s, 4s, and 5s.  This scenario makes goal-setting much different than it ever has in the past.

Goals for the 2014-15 School Year

1.  Reflection

The whole reason I came across the te@chthought blogging challenge was because I wanted to incorporate daily/weekly reflections.  I find that reflection plays just as large and impactful part in lesson planning than the actual creation of the lesson.  The way that I would like to reflect upon my teachings is something that I have been searching to define.  Simply stated, I could ask these three basic questions:

  • What worked well?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • What will happen going forward?

Right now, I have a template for recording what actually occurred in each of my class periods.  It’s helpful because even though I have three class periods for one prep, they are all at different levels.  The differentiation between those classes cause me to become forgetful about what was assigned for one class versus another.  This document helps me keep things straight.

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If I were to add a column that asked the three questions about my daily/weekly lessons, I would be able to succinctly manage both the recording of and reflection on each lesson.

2.  Mentoring

As I mentioned previously, I am the English Department Chair, and even though I have six years of experience in this role, I have not managed quite so many teachers nor been in charge of so many facets of their performance.  I run department meetings, research instructional tools & resources, mentor new-hires, mentor first-year teachers, conduct random observations, and I work as part of the Executive Committee that is comprised of department heads, grade level team leaders, and administration.  Our English department has thirteen teachers, the largest by far in the school.  My duties to this responsibility compare to those of my teaching.  My goal in this position is to serve as a mentor and a facilitator, not as a dictator or authoritarian.  I want to ensure that if there are questions or concerns, I am able to help support my teachers and not come off as a know-it-all, elitist, or member of the gestapo.  I don’t know quite how this goal looks in concrete terms, but I suppose it will come off through my attitude, tone, and behavior.

One way that I worked towards making our team feel like a supported team was when I gave everyone a “Welcome Back to School” apple.

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3.  Continue to Learn

While there is comfort in routine, the known,I wanted to push myself to always be learning something new.  Cliche as it may be, I stronger adhere to the ideology that in order to be successful teacher, I must instill a sense of curiosity in my students, creating lifelong learners.  This year, knowing that I would have to be even more knowledgable, push my students even more, increase the rigor and expectations to a higher level, I would have to be prepared to do the same for myself.  I’m very proud of my accomplishment of receiving my masters degree, yet, I will not be satisfied with myself if I stop there.

My main source of proof or measurability for reaching my goal of continuous knowledge acquisition is through reading and reflecting upon books.  I mean, I am an English teacher for a reason.  I have selected a book that a good friend recommended to get me started in deepening my understanding of literary criticism, feminist theory in this case.


Here is an NPR review.

I will continue to read books about literary criticism to add to my knowledge base.  While I have only taught English, my major in college was History.  My English minor is appropriate named in that I only took a few courses that dived into criticism.  The majority were writing courses or early American literature to go along with my fascination of history.

What goals do you have for this upcoming school year?  How do you plan on reaching them?  

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