Monday, July 29, 2013

Faculty Goals & Self Reflection...With My Successes AND Failures for All to Read!

Good evening!

Now that back-to-school season is upon us, I'm reflecting on 2012-13 and making goals for the new year.  Typically, we are asked to do this task in the fall sometime and then we meet with our principal to discuss our reflections. This year, administration is doing it a little differently, so, beginning next year, we will be required to reflect and plan at the end of the academic year.  Since the new system wasn't developed until school let out for summer break, this year's goal-setting document is due during the first week of school.  As I began writing my thoughts yesterday evening, I thought I should just turn this into a blog post that I can refer back to at the end of the year. Oh dear! Here I am sharing my successes AND failures with you. I am comfortable doing so because goodness knows I make and (usually) learn from mistakes. Read at your own risk as this might be rather boring for anyone besides me! :)

·    Reflect on your qualities as a teacher. Comment on your strengths and areas that need strengthening in your classroom practice.

Keeping all learners (students and yours truly) at or above the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages’ (ACTFL) recommendation for 90% target language use in the classroom has been my goal since I first stepped in the classroom several years ago. For the past two years, I have been able to reach that goal, so that is the area of my teaching where I feel the most success at the moment. On most days, we are speaking French during class for more than 90% of the 50-minute class period and are doing so by actively participating in a fun and easy system of accountability.  Overall, students have made marked improvement with regards to oral communication, so I plan to continue to engage students in spoken practice with this method.

The most significant weaknesses I see when thinking about my goals for professional growth include the areas of feedback and assessment of interpretive communication. During the 2012-13 academic year, I was concerned about the way I handled both of these components of my courses, so it was rather easy to brainstorm ideas for this goal-setting exercise.

In the past, the turnaround time for student feedback has not always been what one would describe as stellar. In fact, sometimes I don’t return work for a week or, shamefully, longer.  Oh là là!  I feel that I should return work to students within two days after the due date. With quicker feedback, my hope is that students will have at least a little more success since the information will still be theoretically fresh in their minds. 

During our first year with 1:1 iPads, I also began using a proficiency-based grading system that has been wonderful for assessment of student progress.  However, I didn’t have a rubric for the interpretive mode of communication (e.g. listening to podcasts, reading various texts, and so on…).  When students had to perform in this mode, I usually felt that I had to prepare short answer questions for them to answer so that I could grade the work out of the total number of questions rather than assess their proficiency level.  Sometimes, students would do other tasks, like summarizing what they read, to demonstrate understanding/proficiency, so I had to use rubrics that didn’t correspond with the ones I had in place for the other types of assessment. I would like to have rubrics reflect the proficiency goals better.

·    How will you work on those areas that need strengthening? Include ways that [the school] can assist you.
Depending on my schedule and the amount of planning time I have each day, I will make an attempt to schedule time for feedback on student work each day (rather than do it without any type of organized plan.)  If that’s not possible, I will make a concerted effort to do it every other day.  Since I don’t create multiple-choice and/or fill-in-the-blank tests, it can be rather time consuming to assess the type of work my students do. There’s not really anything that administration can do to help me with this goal other than ensure I have two planning periods since students must write compositions, create products, and so on.
As for my goals for better assessment methods of the interpretive mode of communication, I am either going to create rubrics before school resumes or use one that another world language educator and/or school district prepared and shared.  I will also do more pre-, during, and post listening/reading tasks that require students to show comprehension by engaging in critical thinking.

·    What were your professional goals this year? Comment on your ability to meet these goals.
Listed below are the 2012-13 goals I submitted last fall with comments on successes and failures in parentheses.  (Last year, we were asked to list three general goals and three that include some sort of collaborative work.)
1.  French 1,2,3 Curriculum:  I plan to revise the current curriculum as the year goes on to make it align more with the six major themes of the AP course. The themes are very broad and practical, so it makes sense to get students accustomed to them from on day one of the program. (I would say I met this goal because I did do some revisions as we moved from unit to unit in all four levels of French. This is a continual work in progress, so I will be revising it again this year, just as I do every year.)
2.  Model UN  : I plan to prepare students for the spring conference this year. I also plan to build a wiki that will be rich with resources that will aide delegates in their research. ( I would say that I met this goal, too, since I did the following: created a club website, met students for a few meetings, participated in a club meeting with a former ambassador to Tanzania, and tried to find a conference (to no avail) that didn’t conflict with our holidays.)
3. French Club:  I plan to see if there is some sort of service learning members can do OR help gather donations for supplies to be sent with a doctor/missionary going to Haiti. I have an idea for the latter, so I just need to make initial contact. (I did not meet his goal, unfortunately. French Club only met a handful of times due to lack of leadership on my part and on the part of the officers. Moving forward, I hope to merge with the Spanish and Latin clubs in order to form a bigger and, hopefully, more united international club.)
1.  I plan to work with the upper school librarian in order to do a lesson on effective Google searches for quality authentic sources in French.  Students need to be able to conduct research by finding articles, infographics, and podcasts/videos in the target language.  The librarian will also teach them how to set up their Noodle Tools account and write an annotated bibliography.  All learners, with the exception of French 1 students, who will do it in the spring, will have this training in the fall. Moving forward, I will not have to have two-day lessons on this at every level of French since it will be done in French 1 every year. (This goal was mostly met because I did collaborate with the librarian to carry out this learning experience, but I didn’t remember to do it in the spring with the French 1 students. This means that I will have to do the lesson with French 1 and 2 students this year in order for all students to have the initial training. I will review the research process with the level 3 and AP students this year. I will also change the expectations for the research project for the level 2 students because I asked them to produce at a level of proficiency that was too advanced and resulted in frustration and poor performance.
2.  I plan to do a year-long collaborative project with a French teacher in Paris, France. We are doing a focused project that involves research among students at participating schools, both in-house and across the globe.  We are building a wiki and modeling it after the FlatClassrooms project. This is a huge endeavor, but it should be rewarding for the students.  The topic of this project is global citizenship and digital media. Only levels three and AP will participate, it looks like, but I hope to have the lower levels at least connect with other schools through blogging.  (This goal was not met. We started the project, but it fizzled out due to conflicting schedules and a loss of contact. The blogging project with another American independent school did not happen because I dropped the ball. Our schedules do not mesh well either so we should have had organized it better on the front end. Moving forward, my students will be connecting with university students in Paris and they will come visit us one day in February as they have done for the past two years. There is another possibility for an exchange with a French high school, but I’m not yet sure if we have the same ideas for a project.)
Moving forward, I plan to create a reflections and goal-setting document that students can add to the e-portfolio they will keep this year. Last year, I think I just asked students to think about their goals because I can't find a document anywhere! If I find one, however, I'll add a link in the comments below.   If you read this post, thank you for humoring me!

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

Now, that we're getting closer and closer to the first week of school, I'm going to go ahead and wish you a fantastic year full of creativity, inspiration, and, finally, something we need to experience every day -- laughter!

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