professornana (professornana) wrote,

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This fall will be the beginning of my 28th year teaching at the university and my 41st year of teaching in general. And I am not the only one who anticipates those first days (even though mine are now online). But at NErDCAMPMI, as I sat in an incredible session hosted by Jen Vincent, Kathy Burnette, and Chad Everett, something made me think differently about all of the preparations for those first days. "How can we get everything into place before we even know what our kids will be like?" That question and the work Donalyn Miller and I are doing with CHOICE has made me think about those first days differently. And now I also add in the results of the Twitter chats Karin Perry and I conduct at the end of our YA lit semesters. Student feedback about books and assignments also changes some of my plans.

I guess it's is all about reflection, something I think many of us do on a continuing basis. How did this assignment go? Did it accomplish what I planned? If not, what do I need to do? Do I tweak or start from scratch? How did they respond to the selection of books? Which ones resonated? Should I drop one and replace it with another? Which should replace the dropped one? So many questions.

This is what keeps me coming back for all those first days. I make changes and see what happens. I let students help me tweak or drop and replace. I offer more choice than ever before. It sort of disproves the old adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. This aging canine is still learning. So, while I have the basics in place, there are some things that have to wait for the students. I am amazed sometimes at what they will suggest. It generally leads me to learn something new, to try something different.

So, as I prepare for this 28th year of YA literature, I think of the standards (yes, we still have mandated things at the university level) but I think more about the students. What changes can I put into place to make this year a year of firsts for both them and me.
Tags: firsts, reflection, teaching
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