04 February 2016

I guess this is a shared inquiry!

So many new classes, courses and routines this year--it has been difficult to find time to reflect when I am having so much fun. I am teaching a writing & composition class to both sophomore and junior level college prep classes. It is NOT one prep, as I have found out. But it is endlessly engaging my teacher brain. I strategize each writing task and the different ways to approach them, depending on the needs of 15 year olds and then 16-17 year olds. Most of my problem solving brain has been focused on them. Yesterday a colleague asked if I had issued a demerit for a uniform infraction (that I should have noticed) and I was dumbfounded. I had seen that child three times during the day trying to salvage what I could from an attitude outburst (hers, not mine this time) and had never noticed. She and I were working on different problems. I am fine with that.

But today my AP Seminar is on my mind, because we are experiencing this new AP animal as inexperienced first timers together. I don't like operating from a place of vulnerability, but every single teacher in the US who teaches the new Capstone courses is in the same position. The class requires a level of critical thinking and acceptance of responsibility that my first time AP students embraced slowly with some reluctance. As their questions get better, my need to own the content is more urgent. And now that we have hit the performance tasks to be scored by the College Board, I feel muzzled, unable to offer suggestions or glorify their small victories. They are doing fine without me, but it is still hard to step this far back.

I just finished writing them their second letter addressing my own reflections on a recent shared inquiry activity. This one step--writing them letters reviewing my own thinking on our experience has helped to model the questioning and team work so integral to the class. It addresses our success and "opportunities for improvement" without the specter of the score. They see me struggle with how to improve a project to become my best self teaching, and modelling the process is priceless at this point in the class. Here are two examples of my letters below.



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