Recently one of our assistant principals observed my teaching.
I remember my first observation. I worked hard on my delivery of the pre-reading notes. I use to think it was important for students to see how much I knew about an author or poet. After all, I did have the book with all of the answers.
Actually, I did not get a teacher’s annotated edition until I was in my 6th year of teaching, and this forced me to think and be creative on my own. It was a true blessing. But, I digress.
After my mini-lecture, I read the poem to the class. It was Emily Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop For Death:
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.
We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.
We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.
Since then ’tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.
Then I began to ask questions. Are there any words you do not know? What figurative language do you see? What do you think the theme is? Etc.
I would pause and wait for answers. I would repeat or rephrase what the students said. I would write notes on the board. I was leading the lesson. And, I received a great evaluation.
I try not to be the sage on the stage anymore. I wonder how many of my students that day remember the poem? While I read the poem, what were they thinking about? While I asked a question and one student answered it, what were the other students doing?
I have to lead at times. I know grammar rules better than most of the kids. However, I do not have to explain what reading selections mean. If I taught this poem today, I would do it differently. I would have the students write a journal about what they want to do before they die; they would create a bucket list. I would have the students get a partner and read the poem to one another. Next, they would answer questions similar to the ones I asked that day long ago. After they were finished, we would bring the class together, and I would let the students lead the discussion to see if their analysis of the poem was similar or different. The final evaluation would be an analysis of a different poem.
I am curious to receive the feedback from our assistant principal. He observed my warm-up activity of having students copy three vocabulary words and writing a creative sentence with figurative language as the context clue. While the students do this, I take attendance and talk to students who were absent.
Next, the students used our laptops to write their short stories. My classroom became a buzz of activity as students shared ideas, read each other’s stories, and asked me questions. It never became too loud, nor was it silent. I do wonder what my first principal would have thought of this. I ended with an exit ticket of self-evaluation: If you had more time, what would you have done differently? Of course, the students had the next day to continue their writing.
Now to grade those stories…
- Poetry? Oh Noetry. (signalstoattend.wordpress.com)