This year for the first time I am trying to keep an online diary of what I do in every class.
It started as something I was going to do with the senior years, but has developed to the stage where I now update it for all years, from First Year to Sixth Year.
Anyone can access this; the links for the various pages can be accessed from the homepage of thephysicsteacher.ie website.
This is useful on many levels.
- Students who are absent for one day or a number of days can find out what they are missing.
- It acts as a guideline to new teachers in other schools on how much time to give a particular topic or concept.
- I have just started the timelines for junior years; first years in particular benefit in that if they forget to take down their homework they can access it online (mind you I am only too aware that homework is not nearly as beneficial as we would like to believe, but for now it’s school policy and while I try to keep it to a minimum, it does still get issued).
- It should also assist students with learning difficulties who may not have taken the homework down properly, although as I write this I realise I should really check this with those individual students before they leave the classroom.
- It acts as a reminder to myself of what homework I set (I don’t keep a written record and never have).
- It acts as a reminder to myself of where we finished last class (I don’t do class plans in advance and never have and it usually takes me close to the full year before I know my timetable off by heart).
- It acts as a reminder to myself of tests which I have to give.
- I share two of my classes with another teacher – we can both edit the document to update our progress. This also works for student teachers who come in to take one or two classes a week and need to know where the class is at on any given day.
But it goes beyond this.
I can record what worked well and what didn’t so that when I go to repeat the topic the following year I can avoid repeating the mistakes; this is more of an aspiration at the moment – I don’t necessarily do this so much anymore but I certainly did when I first started teaching and it was a very valuable activity.
Parents can use the document to review what was covered in class and to check what homework was given (I email all parents at the beginning of the school year to introduce myself and to encourage them to contact me for any reason).
I guess in one sense it’s similar to Edmodo, but I want it to be open access to students and teachers both inside and outside the school.
I plan next term to get one of the students to write this up; it will be interesting to see how their review of the class contrasts with mine.