In reflecting on teaching, I’ve always been told to consider two questions: what went well and what would I change next time? I have to admit that I generally find these questions to be ideal points of consideration because they force me to acknowledge both the positive and the negative, to avoid an emotional evaluation of myself, and to immediately identify solutions rather than simply dwelling on weak spots.
What went well? I was pleased to hear positive feedback about the “starter ideas” that I had included with the prompt. These suggestions were actually a last-minute addition to this activity, one that I felt was required for this presentation since the perspective writing or textual intervention activity that we did in class had to stand independently from the other activities and discussion included in my lesson plan. I also was glad to see that the idea of approaching the text from the fringes seemed to be generally well-received, as I’d had some concern that focusing on this might come off as being too peripheral.
Thinking about my micro-teaching presentation, however, I have had trouble responding to the second question. What would I change next time? There are a few things that stand out, obviously: I’m afraid that the directions I gave for the activity were unclear and I really hated the fact that my timing didn’t allow for the every group to share their work with the class. These are small issues, though, and I feel pretty confident that, having identified these spots, I would be able to avoid them in future lessons. What bothers me more is the fact that I have still not seen my lesson play out in its entirety, with each activity used as a foundation upon which to expand. I recognize that this is just one of the pitfalls of having such a micro-teaching demonstrations, but I am dismayed to find that despite my careful planning, I still have a relatively untested lesson plan.
Yesterday was a moment of validation. Going into my classroom, with rambunctious 9th grade students, some eager to learn and others desiring to be entertained, can be stressful and tiresome, but yesterday provided an opportunity to observe the diverse levels of intellect and maturity that my lesson can reach. Having already completed the lesson with my 9th grade students, with pleasant success, I knew it was an effective approach to a tedious reading process; my students were attentive, considerate, and productive. Most importantly, what would have taken four days of class time was accomplished in three by using the flipped classroom design.
The flipped classroom concept translated well into the GMU presentation as everyone already had a firm understanding of Blau’s close reading methodology, which allowed me to avoid lecturing. After everyone completed their quick scan of the text for questions, I was able to move through the room and observe group discussions. This moment was particularly validating as each group found questions worthy of discussion, similar to my 9th grade students. Most groups had questions on what Mr. Maloney said, but the more interesting questions were those apart from that central, obvious omission. Why did she not have a stronger emotional reaction? Why was she drinking while pregnant? These are the questions that only come up when students go beyond the surface reading, and typically that only happens when looking at a piece for the second or third time. Having collected my 9th grade student’s annotations after their first and third readings, I was able to see that many only had the surface questions about Mr. Maloney from their first reading, but the other questions were added during the second and third read through. Not only does this validate the lesson, it supports the argument that single readings are not enough to comprehend a seemingly simple work of literature.
The class discussion, following Blau’s design, also played out to my expectations. I was happy to receive supportive comments from my peers and glad to see how the flipped classroom, which was not my focus, became a focal point for some of the conversation.
If anyone is interested in looking at the introductory video please follow the link: http://youtu.be/QP6DhJl5Txs