There have been many times this past year when I have wished I could go back and correct or redo something. I can really appreciate the struggles that new teachers face. There are an overwhelming number of new things to consider and so there are bound to be things overlooked or mistakes made. At my usual university job, when I think of something to fix or do better the next time I teach a course, I jot down notes to myself and I read those notes before teaching the course the next time.
This time, it’s unlikely that I’ll get to teach Algebra 1, Geometry or Algebra 2 to high school students any time soon. However, I’ll still write down my thoughts anyway.
One of the biggest mistakes that I made is that I didn’t plan in larger instructional units. My lesson plans tend to be conceived from week to week, day to day. My teaching this year lacks a larger architectural design and I’m sure this manifests itself in students who don’t see the forest for the trees. I haven’t been doing much foreshadowing (preview of coming attractions) in my teaching and so there are fewer connections between topics. I also did not realize the extent to which district, state or school tests impose themselves on my instructional choices; so many times I scrambled to “cover” something before a test instead of allowing the tests to do what they are meant to do–to assess students’ understanding of topics that they have already had the chance to master in my class.
I am a big fan of “backwards course design” (espoused by James McTighe and Grant Wiggins in Understanding by Design) and have even led professional development sessions about this kind of instructional design. But have I done much of it this year? No. I feel like such a hypocrite.