Not With a Bang but a Whimper

I realize that T.S. Eliot was talking about far more important issues than how my own semester is going, but his words ring true for me nevertheless. My semester certainly started off with a bang. I was feeling confident about 1:1, I had planned well, and my energy levels were good. Unfortunately, about 2/3 or 3/4 through, I began to feel sapped, drained, tired. In short, the bang was fast becoming a whimper. Lesson plans that I was excited to try did not turn out as well as I’d hoped, complaints from students about too much work or too difficult assignments started wearing me down, and it affected me more this semester than in years past.

Two weeks ago, in a moment of desperation, I actually began searching the Internet for tips on how to “finish the semester strong.” While there’s plenty out there for students on this topic, there’s not much out there in the way of ideas for teachers. I have only been teaching in an upper school setting for 4 1/2 years at this point, and I’m still learning,and I hope I never stop. But I still have questions. Is it normal to have these dips in motivation? Is it normal to have a bad semester? A bad year? Could I have avoided this somehow? Should I have planned more? Did my class experiences this semester create this lethargic feeling, or did I transmit my lethargy to my classes and create the experiences? It’s the old chicken-egg conundrum, I suppose.

As I wind up this semester, however, I really do want some answers so that I can start off next semester once again with a bang and this time keep it resounding to the end. I have a few ideas running through my brain about changes I’m going to make, different approaches I would like to take, etc. But suggestions from others are always a help.

So if you are struggling to get through these final weeks, just know that I’m right there with you.




Monday Morning Roundup #14


Here’s a few educational resources I’ve found this week.

1.  TodaysMeet – Okay, I’m really excited about this site, and I can’t wait to try it out next semester.  We all have those really quiet students in class, who may have great ideas and insights but never speak willingly.  Now, there’s a way to gauge their understanding and bring such students more easily into the discussion without putting them on the spot in front of everyone.  TodaysMeet is a microblogging site that provides a backchannel (a private chatroom just for your students) in your classroom.  Pose a question, have students ask questions and propose answers, all in real time.  FREE.

2. BookGlutton – BookGlutton argues that reading is a social experience.  With this site, teachers can create virtual reading groups inside a book.  According to the site, “You can create virtual groups to meet up inside a book. Have great discussions – chat inside any chapter! And with shared notes you can comment on any paragraph, and you’ll get notified when your friends respond.”  You can use the site’s catalogue which currently features hundreds of books and is growing, or upload books from Google or other sites.  FREE.

3. Revolution – Set in Williamsburg, VA, on the eve of the American Revolution in 1775, Revolution is an interactive game in which students take on one of seven roles.  Each role is based on different social, economic, and political characteristics. The consequences of actions are firmly based on these differing characteristics, allowing students to learn about a variety of experiences of the war.  FREE.

4. Documentary Heaven – Looking for a documentary for yourself or your students?  Check out this site for hundreds of free documentaries, categorized by subject area.  The site is growing all the time.  FREE.

5. Top Documentary Films – Still looking for a documentary?  Try this free site which offers over 2,000 documentary films and continues to grow.  FREE.