The Day After

Over the next few days I must document the range of thoughts and emotions bouncing around my brain about the APWH test – ideas about buy-in, students’ reflections, things I want to keep doing, things I want to change (CCOTs, if you will) – but for now I just want to think about a short conversation I had with one of my most challenging students during Office Hours yesterday.

With 5 or 6 APWH students in the room and one 9th grader who asked for help about the Mongols we reflected on the year. N – the one student I never felt like I really connected with – gave me the clearest advice. I mentioned that in my bi-weekly survey in response to the statement “I feel comfortable asking Mr. Miller for help when I don’t understand something” I tended to average around a 3 (“Agree”), which is the lowest of all the questions. I asked what I needed to do to move to a 4 (“Strongly Agree”). N spoke up – in some of the clearest, most complete sentences I’ve heard from her all year – and explained that she wished class was more than 50 minutes because she just wanted to be able to ask me more questions. Several students agreed. I doubt I’m going to get the gift of a double block APWH course next year, but it made me realize the importance of the “First 5” and pacing. Too often we would get derailed with questions at the beginning of class (usually about the Do Now or a homework assignment) and I wouldn’t have time to address them at the end of the lesson. (Feel free to point out the irony of the number of times I’ve coached teachers around the importance of pacing during review of the Do Now.)

Next year I need to commit to two things (which I’ll start Monday): (1) making time for a minute or two of questions every day AFTER the exit ticket and (2) a place for questions at the bottom  of each exit ticket.

I, obviously, have many, many more thoughts, but N’s feedback really hit home and I’m not sure it would have been as powerful from anyone else.

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