This year is my seventh as a teacher. I’m at the same high school, and while many things about my teaching and my teaching context have changed over those seven years, one thing has remained the same: no matter what other classes I’ve been assigned to teach, I have taught sophomore English every year.
Each year, I’ve made changes to my English 2 class. Early on, I re-arranged the curriculum to organize the year by a progression of writing genres, each paired with corresponding mentor texts. Later, I worked to add more performance tasks and authentic writing. Each year, I’ve swapped out at least one traditional text by a dead white man for one by someone of color, someone female, someone queer, and/or someone still living. My curriculum has come to better represent the United States, and my Southern California students.
I’ve learned to make better, more personal connections with my students by assigning personal writing assignments in the first days of school, sharing more about myself and teaching authentically, having more personal conversations with students on a daily basis, and greeting my kids at the door as their song requests play on the classroom overhead speakers. This year, I feel that the first month of school has been my most successful yet, and one component that has contributed to that success, I believe, has been a short, three-day mini-unit in the first week of school. The topic: growth mindset. Continue reading