03 May 2011

Leaving the Semester

The semester isn't quite over yet, but it's ridiculously close. I've spent the whole of the last two days meeting with my undergrads, engaging them in exit interviews before they leave campus for the summer. I've come to really enjoy the interview structure, allowing me a more personalized way to end the class. 

As I think about the interviews and my own teaching this semester, a few things pop out at me: 

* I like writing with my class. For the collaborative paper assignment this semester, students worked in groups using Google docs to write a paper around a hot topic in literacy education. I would go through each and every paper weekly and edit with them, leaving notes and suggestions in the margins. It's a time-consuming but valuable tool as I've struggled for years with attempting to think about how to help my students be better writers; feedback on the final paper always arrives too late. 

* I need to continue focusing on developing habits of mind with my students rather than simply a culmination of grades. I've been struck by my students and their focus on grades rather than learning content and by delaying grades until the end (rather cruel), I think I facilitated more development of content rather than simply checking things off of a list. 

* I need to think of more ways to include (a) children's literature and (b) phonics into my assessment class. I was struck by the lack of knowledge my students had about children's literature, despite thinking that they would connect students to literature and that would make the students interested in reading. How can teachers connect students to books if they don't read books themselves? Additionally, I was shocked to find the lack of phonics information held by my students. Normally, I teach the fall section of this class and we spend a large amount of time on phonics. That the students didn't have this makes me nervous - I need to think of ways to incorporate more phonics in everything I do. 

* I need to have these interviews earlier in the semester. I love getting to know them and can accelerate our relationships by moving this to earlier in the semester. 

Two interviews to go. The rest of the week will be spent finding an apartment, working on arrangements for a conference later in the semester, and thinking about extending my dissertation data collection. 

And there must be some knitting. Soon. 

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