I have had my thumb on my seniors all year. If you were to ask any of them to describe me as a teacher, you would here, among other things, that I am a bit of a control freak. I don't deny the charges. I like to be in control. It is why I don't like flying but love driving. It is why when I ask my wife where she would like to go to dinner, it has to be on my list of places I will eat at. Some day, I will seek counseling, but not today.
We are at the time in the year when my seniors begin to get restless. They sense the end is near. Some teachers believe that this time of the year requires them to maintain that control. I do not. At this time every year, I have embarked on literature circles--or at least my version--in my Pre-College English classes. I do this for two reasons. The first: I'm tired of listening to myself lead discussions, make observations, and do all the thinking for them. The second: our school has a Senior Seminar class that teaches self-directed learning; these circles require the students to be self-directed.
But, it is always at this time of the year that I feel like the worst teacher around. I walk through the classroom listening to their discussions. I stop to sit with groups and talk with them. Inevitably, I find that most of the students either don't do the reading or do a cursory read. This leads to a discussion about the recall questions like "Where did Kumalo go in this chapter?" Very rarely does a group get to the deeper levels of the text despite our focus on those questions throughout the year.
So, once again this year, I am reminded that I am really good at telling kids how to do things, that I am really good at modelling those habits for them, but I am not really good at teaching it to them.