We had our second department meeting this year, though it seems our department meets more than the required amount of times by our administrators. I am lucky to be part of a department that is so very passionate about language arts and how we reach students in the classroom. Today we were discussing the increasing demands we seem to be facing as language arts teachers. It seems we are being asked to implement more and more into the curriculum that we have in front of us. As language arts teachers in our district we feel the Common Core Standards are put together really well and much easier to work through on a whole. Our biggest task ahead of us is going to be working through the CCS and seeing what it is we do in our classroom and lining it up with the standards and then going back and plugging any holes where we are missing items. This is going to be a chore that we have to endure not only in our department meetings, but on our own time as well. Although this will be very beneficial to all of us at each level we teach, there are still questions left unanswered.
The biggest question we are still scratching our heads over is how to teach grammar efficiently I our classrooms. Let’s face it, handing out worksheets and going over examples on our whiteboards isn’t the most affective way to reach students. This “plug and chug” method turns us into worksheet teachers and in essence creates a somewhat toxic environment where students do not want to learn. Furthermore, as language arts teacher our backs are already up against the wall when students come into our classroom. More often than not, students don’t care much for language arts class. Now, since I have incorporated more digital tools into my classroom and changed my approach to writing with boys, language arts has been very pleasant and I hear more and more from my students that they like my class. But the questions remains, how do we get through everything in the curriculum, make our classrooms digital, and have grammar be engaging? Oh, and do all of this without feeling or getting burned out as teachers.
I don’t know how other teachers feel, but I feel like this year has flown by in a whirl wind. I also feel I haven’t covered everything I am supposed to as a language arts teacher. Is is okay? Are other language arts teachers feeling like I am? Perhaps it is because of my new teaching assignment or the overwhelming amount of paperwork. Nevertheless, I will continue to move forward and research new and innovative ways to reach my students. Jeff Anderson and Kelly Gallagher are two professionals who I have researched and have helped me transform my room into a much better place for students to learn. I know there are many other resources out there as well. NWP is a great group for resources too.