The last two units that I did with my students were a learning experience as I was just implementing PLT. I found myself and my students trying to figure out our new roles in the classroom. I was letting go of control and my students weren’t sure what to do with their new power of choice.
When I first joined the blended collaborative in my district, my goal was to meet the needs of all of my students, especially the top and bottom thirds of my class. After I implemented PLT, the top third of my classes were flourishing and enjoying their PLT because they were able to accelerate their learning. The middle third had a bit of an adjustment period, but then found that PLT was working for them. But the bottom third of my class was struggling. The struggle wasn’t anything new, but PLT by itself wasn’t working for them.
After receiving feedback from my students and reading their reflections, I was a bit disappointed that PLT still wasn’t working for all of my students. So I had to reevaluate my role as a teacher in my blended classroom and how I could meet the needs of all of my students. I’m very thankful that I have wonderful support from colleagues that are willing to collaborate with me and work to improve PLT. With their help, I was able to come up with some new strategies and redefine my role.
During class PLT, I’ve really focused on the students who are struggling. I still check in with every student and help those with questions, but I’m devoting most of my time to working with the students who need me the most. I recommend specific activities for these students, but still offer them choice. I also explain the activity to them and help them get started. If I have multiple groups of students to help, I then let them work on their own or with a classmate and check in with them frequently. In some of my classes I’m able to go through an entire activity with them and then encourage them to do some work outside of class.
This, along with telling the students that they should get at least one to two activities done in class a day is making a difference. The struggling students who have been in class are getting their work done and have told me that they enjoy working with me. It is so satisfying to see students, who haven’t done much of anything in the past, successfully completing their work. These students also seem more satisfied and are now asking me how they can improve their trimester grade.
I know that I still have a ways to go to making PLT effective for all students, but I’m feeling better that I’m finally starting to meet my original goal of helping all students be successful in French. I would not be seeing this change if I wasn’t using PLT.