Monday, June 16, 2014

Hot Secrets: What I've Noticed From Teaching Summer School

I'm already half way through teaching my first of two semesters for summer school. I can't believe at how slow and quick it has gone.  Four hours and fifteen minutes is a long time to do anything, let alone sit in a class. 

So here are the 5 things I've learned so far:

1.  Everyone is just biding their time.  We hate to think it as teachers but, yes, they're there because they have to be.  More often than not, they're there because they have failed.  All of this means that they want to get in, get out, and get gone.  That's fine!  Design your summer school curriculum that way.  It doesn't make you a bad teacher! 

2.  Students like the leeway.  Teach only what they need to know and find a way to give students autonomy.  For me, that's pretty easy.  Autonomy is almost synonymous with composition.  Regardless, I let them pick their partners, topics, sources, etc.  If I can give them choice and guide their learning, that's an efficient and effective way to spend my 14 days.

3.  My students respond well to routine schedules.  I have the same schedule every day.  Grammar - Journal - Research - Writing - Revision.  Students know what to expect when they come in.  They get straight to work and are able to become better at each task the more frequently they do it.  By the third or fourth day, you won't have to explain directions on how to do something... such as writing a basic paragraph.  Instead, you can spend time helping individual students at their own level.

4.  Don't give out homework.  Like I said, they're biding their time.  In my opinion, if we can get the work done in class, then that's what we should do.  Instead of having them write an entire research paper outside of class, I have them write it in chunks during class time.  We're already covering an entire semester's worth of content in 14 days.  Don't make this harder than it already is.  

5.  Give extra credit.  I give one extra-credit worksheet each day.  It's only worth 6 points and it ties into what we're working on with each unit.  Not everyone will do it but it's nice to give them the option.  Remember, this is a credit recovery summer school course - they need and want the choice.

These are just 5 of the many things that I've learned in the past 6 days.  Have you ever taught summer school?  If so, what have you learned?  Comment below.

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