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Interim Report

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It is “interim report” time, so I have to evaluate if my students have made progress the first half of the quarter. The process lets the students (and their parents) know if they are in danger of failing, or are making satisfactory progress.

It’s a good time for me to evaluate myself, too. I have tried to think about how my teaching is going. Am I successful, or in danger of failing? Am I doing a good job?

I want to review my seashell lesson (see “Collecting”). My English 9 students were allowed to choose a shell, then had to compare it to their “true love”, real or imagined. Was her cheek as smooth as the shell’s curve? Was he rough on the outside, and shimmering inside? Is true love a treasure to be found when you least expect it? The students came up with some good ideas, and most seemed to “get it”.

Some students complained, but once they started talking about the imagery they could use they started writing. Selecting the seashell to write about was a bigger event than I had expected. All of the students wanted to keep their shell. I hadn’t thought of it before, but I think the students felt they’d gotten a gift from me.

When my World Civilizations students came in second period, they saw the basket of shells and wanted to know about them. Since they were tenth graders, I asked if they could remember the imagery of sonnets from ninth grade English. They could, and seemed to like the idea of comparing Juliet to the seashell. They asked if they could have a shell, too. Since they were having a test, I offered each one shell to hold as a ‘good luck charm”. Every student took one. And said thank you.

Another teacher asked me later what I was doing with seashells. She’d heard students talking about it. So I think it was a good lesson. If students are talking about a class, they are thinking.

My main goal as an educator is to keep students thinking, and to try to develop their thinking processes to higher levels. If carrying a seashell in your pocket the rest of the day helps, I’ll go to the beach and pick some up once a year for a lesson in Shakespearean imagery. I’ll give them away, knowing that with each shell I’m giving a little learning. It’s a gift from me to my students.

That’s my interim self-evaluation. I’m doing a good job.


5 Comments

Your posts are very well written and interesting. They give me pause and I am energized by them. I wish I had a teacher like you when I was in high school.
A fourth grade teacher from Cape Cod.

I've really enjoyed reading your post. Like you, I came into education via an alternate route 11 years ago and have not regretted my decision to leave industry for teaching. Keep trying new and innovative ways to reach your students because it does pay off.

I'm sure your doing great, Hannae! Keep using those seashells.
We all wonder if we are doing a good job. I had my final yearly observation a few weeks ago. The assisant principal asked me how I thought the lesson went and I told him that I was disappointed. The students were not as engaged as I hoped they would be and didn't ask enough questions. He told me that he thought the lesson went well. Yesterday I got my written copy of his evaluation. He said that it had been a pleasure to watch my lesson! Wow, I guess I'm being too hard on myself!

Sounds like you are a very creative and enthusiastic teacher. I too wish I had had a teacher like you in h.s. Having come from a very old-fashioned curriculum in which reading and writing were the only activities we ever did in English (and most other academic) classes, I sometimes feel I am shortchanging my students because i have difficulty finding new and creative activities to keep them interested. I too am a career changer, but rather than go the ALC route, I had to do it the hard way and commute a long distance to school, go back and work waitressing jobs, etc., to make my dream pay off. I hope to find a full time job in the public schools next year. I can only dream that I will be able to reach my students as you have! Thanks for sharing (sorry for rambling).

You're so right when you say your job is to keep students thinking. It's not about English or math or any subject in particular. Engage students, teach them to think critically and make proper judgements, evaluations and decisions in life.

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