Saturday, August 24, 2013

School Dreams Focus the Path

The last night of a glorious vacation was met with the familiar pre-school year dreams, one after another. These dreams are commonly experienced by students, educators, and leaders prior to the start of every school year. The dreams wake you up to the exciting and challenging realities ahead setting the stage for your focus goals, actions, attitudes and efforts.

Who will you be this year as a teacher?  What practices from the past will you repeat, and what practices will you change to best meet students' needs, interests, and passions?  What do you want to accomplish by the end of the school year ahead?  How will you pattern your schedule to achieve your goals and care for your life's priorities at the same time--priorities such as family, health, hobbies, and friends. These are the questions that lay the foundation for the year ahead.

My focus this year includes the following:
  • Optimal test scores for all students.
  • 21st Century/Life-Long Learning Design: Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking skills focus. 
  • Happiness, engagement, and meaningful learning for all students.
What can I do to make this happen?
  • Work closely with families, students, and colleagues to set goals, coach, and responsively teach.
  • Develop a strong literacy and numeracy foundation for each child with explicit teaching, time for practice, focused coaching, and formative assessments.
  • Engaging learning design that embeds standards, optimal tools, effective strategies, and relevant content.
  • Developing students' learning to learn mindsets with explicit lessons related to growth mindset, collaborative learning, teamwork, effective use of tools, questioning, audience, and critical thinking. 
What does this look like in real-time?
  • Completing all professional tasks with the focus on teaching students well.
    • Creating an NCTE presentation, "Multimedia Literacy Studio," that is standards-based, student-centered, and effective as evidenced by students' performance, scores, and positive attitudes.
    • Creating a MassCUE presentation, "The 24-7 Classroom," that creates a pattern for in-school/out-of-school schedules and routines that promote positive, effective student learning. 
    • Contributing to state and local educator evaluation systems in a way that streamlines the system so that teachers' time, effort, and professional learning are reserved for optimal student-centered, effective teaching. 
    • Focusing the NBPTS recertification efforts on work that makes a difference for children. 
    • Using RETELL to develop my teaching repertoire.
    • Contributing to the District Determined Measures (DDM) conversations in ways that help to develop student learning and success. 
  • Contributing to school culture in ways that forward our collective learning and efforts with regard to teaching children well. 
  • Following a weekly pattern that is balanced with regard to professional and personal time with time for health, friends and family, and professional efforts.
There are many competing interests in education.  There is always the temptation to complain rather than make positive change.  It is difficult to stay the course with so many distractions in the way.  Questions such as these will help you navigate the path:
  • Does this effort, conversation, question, or debate contribute to my goals of teaching children well?
  • Will this activity help me to meet my teaching goals?
  • Will this make a difference for children?  Will this enrich the student-student or teacher-student relationships?
  • Does this contribute to a positive school culture--a culture that empowers students and supports their individual and collective goals?
The challenge to teach children well--all children--is a powerful, challenging goal, one that I'm ready to embrace with my PLN at school, in the community, and online. Onward!