2016-2017 school year: the good and the bad

The school year is (almost) over… It was the first time I was in the same school the entire year, and it’s really a great experience to be able to see how students have evolved along the way.

So here I am, already reflecting on what worked and what didn’t in order to keep the good stuff and ditch the bad for next year!

Bye bye red pens! 10/10

I’ve completely banished red ink when marking papers. I now use Paper Mate Flair pens in all the colours of the rainbow, and that has two great advantages: one, it makes marking papers slightly less horrible and two, students feel less attacked by my comments. I swear! Also, I tend to be less stern when writing in teal. Go figure.

Not working on week-ends: 10/10

At the beginning of the school year, I used to work 7/7. I know right, what a stupid idea! But I was so busy with my thesis, and all the lesson plans I had to prepare… It felt like I was working non-stop. So I decided to stop working on week-ends. Anything could wait until Monday morning. At first, I felt guilty. I kid you not. But then I realised a more relaxed teacher meant a more efficient and patient one during the week. And this has now become a golden rule! (And if you think there’s no way you can do it, I suggest you try getting more organised and to be more proactive. This should help tremendously.)

Stickers: 10/10

Middle schoolers love them (high schoolers do too, from what I remember ;)). When they have five stickers they get candy. Food is the best motivation out there. I know because I use it on myself all. the. time.

The teacher planner: 10/10

I started using my A5 domino as a teacher planner in May. I know right, why so late? I used my personal Malden as a all-in-one planner for most of the year, but it meant carrying my lesson plans and rosters apart and having all the school related info cluttering my planner whenever I wasn’t at work… The teacher planner solves these problems beautifully. It holds all my students info and lesson plans, but my appointments and tasks are still in my personal size Malden. A setup video is in the works!

Yearbooks: 8/10

Man, that was a LOT of work (a post is coming in the near future about this adventure!), but so rewarding in the end! This was a first for me, and the students really enjoyed working on this project. I was really happy with the final result and I’m glad my final year students will be leaving middle school with such a great reminder of their time there!

Highlighting correct grammar: 9/10

I’ve taken to highligthing any correct sentances my students write on their homework and papers. It makes them realise that even though they make mistakes, they are sometimes able to express things clearly! It takes a bit more time but I really think it’s worth it in the end. Also: great excuse for buying the new pastel Stabilo highlighters!

Classdojo: 7/10

This is a great class management app that works well with all ages, but it actually is quite a lot of extra work when used in class. You have to keep an eye on the students, ask questions, listen to their answers and correct them, and at the same time update the app on your phone. I sometimes get overwhelmed when using it. Moreover you need your video projector to be set on the website in order for the students to see who’s getting good/bad points. So you can’t use it to project your documents. This can be annoying at times!

But I must admit that the children LOVE their little monster avatar and that it can be really motivating for them.

The teacher’s assistant: 5/10

I feel like this could have been a success, but I didn’t invest enough time in it. At the beginning of every our, a student was in charge of coming up to the board, give the date, write it, and then orally recap what had been done during the previous class. Then that student was in charge of handing out the sheets, calling the roll… I wasn’t consistent enough and students didn’t develop an habit. I need to work on this this summer!

Self-evaluation of participation: 2/10

This was the biggest fail of the year. One of my tutors recommanded this to me: at the end of each class, students are given a self-evaluation grid and they are in charge of completing it. What happened is that most students got amazing grades when they didn’t deserve them. I have no idea if this was done on purpose or not, but some of them got 20’s when they didn’t even raise their hand at all!!! Next year I’ll go back to giving a participation mark at the end of the semester.

Plickers: 10/10

Oh, my, God. I only discovered Plickers a few days ago and I’m GUTTED I hadn’t heard of this before! This website/app lets you create quizz and do them in class. Each student has a card, and depending on how they positions it, it creates a QR code. I scan the class with my phone and boom, the answers get shown on the video projector at the same time. This is great!

The only downside is that when the internet isn’t working, the quizz isn’t accessible and it might be a problem (we had a few storms last week and the network was down for a few days, it was a bummer!).

Anyway, here’s my little roundup of things I tried out this year. Do you have any recommandations for me?




Instagram has returned invalid data.