I’m feeling burned out by all the college recommendations I wrote in the last couple of weeks for my students going early action/early decision (about 9000 words!!!), so even though I’ve been thinking about these 7C’s since my TTT workshop on September 21st, it’s taken until now to write up where I think I stand on each of them:
From 2014-2016, I participated in a professional growth initiative where all my students had the opportunity to take the MET Tripod survey in first semester and again in second semester of each year, so I have some idea of my 7C’s teacher profile and my responses below take into account the areas where I know I need to pay more attention:
Care and Confer: My scores in these categories will probably be high because I am interested in the individual development and potential of each student I teach and they can see that I will take the time and effort to know them as learners and human beings. My classroom is discussion-based (sometimes too much so?). English as a subject tends to invite personal engagement as students are actively encouraged to respond and make meaningful connections to what they read—and language is a way of knowing so what they say and write both allows them to make sense of the world and for the world to make sense of them. The one survey item that scored lower than the others when I last had TRIPOD feedback was: “Students get to decide how activities are done in this class.” When I reflected on this statement, I realized that I don’t believe that students should decide. While I regularly ask them what learning experiences they believe to be the most valuable and I take into account their feedback during and after each class, I am the teacher and I ultimately decide and assume responsibility for how time and resources are used in my classroom.
Captivate and Challenge: These were some of the highest scores from my previous survey results. The teaching persona I have adopted in the classroom is intellectually rigorous and engaging because I try to speak to students’ lived experiences through the characterizations and themes within the literature we study. I want to take them beyond the Sparknotes-level experience and give them opportunities to struggle with complexity and subtlety in texts, thus I usually begin each text by modeling deep reading of the words and images on the page. It is very important to intrigue students and show them how much they have missed on their first reading—and how much more they can bring to their interpretation if they open their minds to the possibility of more. The one survey item that scored lower than the others when I last had TRIPOD feedback was: “In this class, my teacher accepts nothing less than our full effort.” I am hoping that this will again be among the lowest of my TRIPOD scores. I have always believed that students have a right to consciously choose to prioritize their time and effort. Sometimes, English should and will be the most important thing in their day or week or even month, but I do not want to foster unhealthy perfectionism in my students. Balance is important and homework should not dominate their internal life. The students I have in my classes are more likely to try too hard and waste their precious limited time and energy on formative work that is frankly not that importantin light of other things that might be going on in their lives at that moment.
Clarify and Consolidate: This is the area that I think I want to address, given my own self-awareness as a teacher, my previous round of survey results, and what I think my students here at ISB need. I have been doing a great deal of reading about the value of feedback (as well as its limitations), automaticity, and cognitive load theory. In the past few years, I have gotten better about providing exemplars and breaking down rubrics so that students understand expectations. I am very good about clear and specific objectives for each lesson and connecting ideas, as well as individualized and constructive student feedback, but not as good about formative strategies during class that ascertain what all students have learned. I especially want to be more intentional about the way I end each class period so that they have to summarize and synthesize their learnings and questions. Students here will nod and posture as if they understand but it is often just regurgitation of what the text or I have said, rather than their own independent thoughts. They are intellectually risk-averse and conform to authority too readily.
Classroom Management: Fundamentally, this is about respect in my classroom—for me, for the work we are doing in the subject, for classmates, and for the academic discipline itself. It means taking what we do seriously at an intellectual level (even when we’re having fun or enjoying a moment of spontaneous laughter or community). Because I believe in student autonomy and responsibility, I monitor but I don’t believe in control, so like my contrarian stance about expecting a student’s full effort all the time, I want students to engage as a conscious choice. If a student does not do what I want them to, I’ll talk to them about it, but I am not necessarily going to require that they do what everyone else is doing. The mantra is: self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-advocacy. One student may have another priority at that moment and I respect their right to choose, as long as I know why and they don’t disrupt what the rest of us are doing. On the other hand, I have a number of students with generalized anxiety and socioemotional needs, so it’s important that they are self-aware and choosing to practice the mental and emotional self-discipline to focus and engage when they don’t necessarily want to. I believe my role in those situations is to prompt and support but not to insist.