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Monday, October 03, 2016

Teaching Well: Finding the Center

There's always more to do when you teach. It's a job with no limits when it comes to promise and potential. The challenge as with all jobs is to balance the work with your family life, friends, and personal pursuits. To do that, you have to find the center of your time and efforts; you have to find what matters.

To me, I am committed first to my many fifth grade students. I want each student to enjoy school, be inspired, and learn a lot. I work with a great team of teachers and together the only limitation we face as to what we can do right now is time. We are constantly learning, leaning on one another, and pushing each other to develop and improve the program. As it stands now, my first priority is teaching math well and my second priority is STEAM teaching and learning. With this in mind it's a day-by-day effort to teach, design learning experiences, respond, reflect, and revise as needed.

I am also committed to lifelong learning and improving my craft. This arena is a bit more challenging since there is limitless opportunity to learn, multiple outside agencies inviting teachers to learn with them, tremendous online opportunities for learning, bountiful courses, lots of books to read, and many, many professional events. This is a much different professional learning scenario than years ago, and teachers need to review what's out there and make choices that will elevate and celebrate their work with the greatest result.

Currently with regard to professional learning, I am prioritizing the following efforts:
  • Moderating Tuesday night #edchat 7pm-8pm
  • Studying and design math/STEAM research, learning, and program development
  • Promoting culturally proficient teaching and learning via reading, writing, planning ECET2-MA2016, working with colleagues, and designing related teaching/learning events.
  • Looking at ways to integrate SEL (social emotional learning into multiple learning experiences to promote student success and wellness.
  • Development of our shared teaching model, professional collaboration, and tech integration to elevate achievement, students' self confidence and independence, and student engagement and empowerment.
As the year moves along, I plan to attend a number of professional events to keep the learning fresh and current. For example I've already committed to attend ECET2-MA2016MassCUE, edcampMaldenedcamp Boston (if I can get a ticket :), Educon 2.9, MTA Summer Conference and The Wayland STEAM and Literacy Institutes--events I've attended in the past and know to be great resources for new learning. As I attend the events, I'll likely engage with the sessions related to cultural proficiency, STEAM, tech integration, and math learning. 

In addition, I also want to develop my efforts to collaborate with educators near and far. The more I reach out to collaborate, the more I learn. Areas that interest me most in this regard include how to use good process such as "hosting conversations" to move our collective work forward. I'm also interested in the ways that we can maximize tech integration to develop successful, targeted, and results-oriented collaboration. 

I have multiple opportunities to develop this interest and work as I collaborate with my grade-level colleagues, colleagues across the system, and educators throughout the world in my Professional Learning Network. Specifically our systemwide grade-level colleagues are looking deeply at the math/STEAM programs. There has been substantial discussion, questions, and ideas shared in this regard. It will be interesting to see where that goes. I'll also have practice as I work with our system-wide salary and working conditions team to re-look at our contract and find ways to improve our work conditions and wages so that every teacher has what they need to teach well and live well too.

At the center of my work is the belief that our efforts matter and the more that we can direct our time and work to the center of what's important and what makes a positive difference, the better we will all do for our students. 

What does your teaching/learning road map look like? Where are your priorities? How will you work with colleagues near and far to move your craft and impact forward? These are questions that take us to the center or the heart of all that we do and aim to be. Onward.