2 Reasons Students Hate Writing For You

I’m going to be a little vulnerable. Early in my career, the most common result produced from the flow of my writing instruction was students developing an aversion to writing. Students weren’t rewarded unless they conformed to the high-stakes scoring guide and assignment parameters. At the same time, students were engaging in all kinds of low-stakes writing that was rewarding, to them at least: social media and text messaging.

Talking with other teachers over the years showed me that this was a common experience. Most of us struggle to get students motivated to write. And most of us aren’t even asking for students to like the academic writing we assign. We want them to maybe appreciate it or see some small value in how it develops them into better students on their way to college. But that rarely develops in students. Why?

Let’s take a closer look at two reasons students hate writing for you.  Continue reading “2 Reasons Students Hate Writing For You”

The 6 Reasons You Should Grade Student Work Electronically

I’m a big believer in pen and paper. Students should write on paper as often as possible. I resist the prediction that one day screens will replace paper. There are so many cognitive benefits to putting pen to paper for writing that the keyboard will never be able to compete with. But when it comes to assessing student work, especially essays, I am starting to see things differently.

One of the main reasons I am transitioning to grading student work on the computer is because I teach on a campus where no teacher has his or her own classroom. We all rotate. Some of us multiple times because our campus has more students than rooms. There are some arguments that can be made for this way of operating a school, but after teaching there for four years, I can attest that the biggest argument against this operation is losing papers.

When a teacher is misplacing and searching for papers regularly, that person is going to look for any way to reduce the stacks. So I transitioned to grading student essays through certain Google apps, and I really like the results.

Here are the 6 reasons you should grade student work electronically.  Continue reading “The 6 Reasons You Should Grade Student Work Electronically”

Change Your Stance on Outside Reading: 4 Factors to Consider

When I started teaching, I did not assign outside reading. Eventually, I tried it, but remained skeptical. I discovered there was a contingent of teachers who were strongly opposed to the idea. “They just don’t want to read,” some would say. “And they cheat,” the same people would continue.

Do students choose to avoid reading? Yes. Do they succumb to the temptation to cheat? Yes. I’m not going to deny it. But the benefits of assigning outside reading far outweigh these concerns though. Here are a couple of stories.

Last year, a student told me, “I am so grateful for this assignment because you helped me find my inner bookworm!” We had great, brief conversations about reading over while she was in my class. Another student told me she made her brother drive to three libraries and finally a Barnes & Noble just to get her hands on a copy of the second book in a series. She found the first book because of the outside reading assignment and didn’t even care if she was to get credit toward the next outside reading for this book.  Continue reading “Change Your Stance on Outside Reading: 4 Factors to Consider”

How 1 Substitute Teacher Can Make You a Better Instructor

In my experience, making a small shift in thinking can make a big difference. For example, I assign outside reading to my students. They choose a novel, they read it, then they do a brief write up. The goal of the assignment is to get students to try reading different new books and see that maybe they could enjoy this wonderful pastime.. Alas, many of my students are lazy and wait until the last minute, which means they cheat. I have found that if I take them to the school library every two weeks and make them publicly sign up for their book title four weeks in advance of the due date, they do a lot more reading on their own. There. Two small changes made a big difference.

As an English teacher, there are many practices I have in the classroom that are efficiency and productivity killers. I have caught myself committing a fair share of these over the years, but I know there are many more that I have missed. I wish there was a way to catch them, like a having a fellow teacher observe me. Not an administrator, not a site coach, but a peer whom I trust. The problem is that person would most likely be teaching at the same time I would be. Can this dilemma be solved?  Continue reading “How 1 Substitute Teacher Can Make You a Better Instructor”

7 Reasons to Build a Tribe of Peer Coaches

In Monday’s post I suggested that one of best paths to professional growth is through partnering with another teacher. This has been true for me. I have partnered with many great teachers over the years. Some collaborations centered on a brief project. Other helping mutual helping relationships have been ongoing for a decade or more. All of these interactions have been peer-to-peer, and each one of us has coached the other at one point.

If you haven’t thought recently about how you might increase your tribe of peer coaches, here are 7 reasons I have found to make this a top priority toward professional growth.  Continue reading “7 Reasons to Build a Tribe of Peer Coaches”