I think back to school for teachers is similar to New Year’s Resolutions for the rest of the world- it is the time to make promises, to get a fresh start, to reexamine your teaching and learning, and plot a course forward.
Each year, I ask Karl Fisch to write some goals for me; these are the ideas meant to inspire me, give me the light at the end of my tunnel, and of course, give me something to constantly think about. Some years the goals are minimal (i.e. Change the World), other years they are vast in numbers and ideas. This year, he went simple but profound:
1. Do less . . . by having your students do more. By that I mean continue to try to turn over more stuff to them.
2. Blog more. Not just because it's good for you (although it is). Not just because it's good for teachers elsewhere that read you (although it is). But because it's good for your students. Not only will it improve your practice, but you'll be modeling for them what a thoughtful, reflective learner looks like. Be the PLN. Just do it.
3. Do one thing. I don't know what it is, but pick one really important thing and focus in on it all semester or year. What's one thing that will really impact your students and your teaching? Find it, and focus.
Number 1-do less. I am all for doing less and shifting (that shifts for you, Karl) the ownership of learning onto my students. One thing I wish I did a better job of last year was helping my all boys class become better peer editors. With increasing class sizes, this will be a good life long skill for them to add to their arsenal but also assist me in providing relevant and immediate feedback to one another. I am going to also blog later about redoing Spelling and Vocab, but I need to find a way for kids to do more with words- to own the words not simply memorize the words.
Number 2-Blog- This is one goal I am not just holding myself to. One of my deskmates, Lauren Lee, has started a new blog and a new focus on us blogging regularly (blogging is much more fun with a partner). And she asked if I would do this with her. I was thinking about blogging regularly with my students. Since I ask them to be part of the network, I think this is something I should commit to as well. I already have three posts in my head I want to get out, and hopefully they will keep coming. I encourage you to follow Lauren as well.
Number 3-Do one thing-this one is easy and NOT, all at the same time. This year, I really want to focus on learning differently with my students. I want to help them develop a mindset that there is not one way to solve the problem, complete the project, write the essay, or take notes. I want there to be a multitude of ways for them to demonstrate their learning and understanding. I also want to focus on writing-A LOT. I want my boys to be better writers, and to realize that writing is a good thing (thanks Martha Stewart). In this life, you need to know how to write, and more importantly, how to write/ communicate effectively. I want to move away from the standardized practice of the 5 paragraph essay, and have them write in a wide variety of forms- movie scripts, cartoons, editorials, memoirs, etc… Any interesting writing ideas that you come across, please pass my way. I plan on meeting with them individually to assess their writing and work on their writing throughout the semester. But Karl- that is my one thing!
So here it is, another school year, another set of goals, but a new chance to start fresh, to change lives, and to change the world.