BEING A REFLECTIVE TEACHER MEANS:
- Being 2 weeks behind in your curriculum compared to last year because (gasp!) your students this year are different than last year's students.
- Stretching your creativity to the limit because you need to reteach a concept 3 times for students to "get" it, and why would you teach it the same way three times when they didn't understand the first way you taught it?
- Being willing to admit that lesson idea did not work, and not being afraid to trash your "favorite" lessons.
- Acknowledging that 90% correct still means 10% not understood.
- Understanding that when students aren't learning, 99% of the time it's NOT because they don't want to learn.
- Forgetting the excuse "They should have learned this last year."
- Throwing pacing and "getting through the standards" out the window.
- Using student feedback to set assignment due dates and test dates.
- Evaluating student work almost every night, and correcting individual student assignments 3+ times.
- Willingness to build the lesson as you go based on what the students need.
- Having a deep pool from which to draw ideas so that you can create responsive curriculum on the fly.
- Being shocked to discover all that students truly don't know.
- Refusing to move on when the whole class isn't ready.
- Finding material to challenge all learners where they are.
- Explaining to parents and principals why the class has been "stuck" on one topic for three weeks.
- Refusing to be bound by grading periods.
- Admitting your weaknesses to other teachers.
- Constantly weeding out portions of lessons that don't target objectives.
- Using more class time when a lesson runs long and not just assigning it as homework.
- Probing deeply into student understanding. Just because they can correct their mistakes doesn't mean they understand it.
- Knowing that there will never a be moment when you've figured it all out. Student needs are always changing.
You see, before this year, I was adapting my curriculum to what I thought would help the students. I'd make a plan based on past experience and execute the plan throughout a unit. This year, I'm adapting the curriculum to what the students are telling me they need help with on a day to day basis. I know where we need to go, but I'm reading my students' cues to better determine how we'll get there and how long it will take. It is a daily struggle for me to let go of the mentality that I need to be at a particular point in the curriculum by a certain day. We may not accomplish all the objectives that last year's class covered, but I need to be okay with that.
"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge."