Today I met with another teacher who observed my class in order to give me feedback about my teaching. Her feedback gave me a couple of points that I see can be improved upon and also gave me some things to reflect upon in terms of how I include students in whole-class activities.
During my summer reading and vocabulary course I had two students join when the class was half over. They were not the majority demographic that made up the class, and despite beings studious and advanced, rarely volunteered information when prompted by me during whole class discussions.
It seems apparent to me now that I'd grown accustomed to the vocal interchanges between myself and the majority of the class, something that had become a style of my classroom community. However, when the new students joined my class who brought with them the learning experiences from their home countries that did not favor the type of spontaneous answers I was encouraging from my students, I did not vary my style of interacting and using questions. Thus, these new students were often left out of class discussions.
I realize that I need to be more reactive to the classroom environment and be ready modify the way I do things to accommodate the changing dynamics of my students. This, I think, is often difficult because as a teacher I often get accustomed to routine. The routine can be comforting because once it is established it becomes reliable. You've built up the expectations of how a classroom is going to run and to deviate from that can be a source of stress for both students and teacher. But I do think that altering one's classroom structure to accommodate the class is an important thing for a teacher to take into consideration.