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Saturday, March 11, 2017

With Countless Opportunities for Learning, What Do You Choose?

Today there are countless opportunities for learning. Yet one can't do them all.

I'm missing out on both ECET2Boston and Edcamp Boston today since I had to make time to attend to personal matters. Those are two terrific learning opportunities open to teachers at no cost and with considerable support and attendance. Terrific opportunities to learn. Earlier in the week I could have attended Medfield's Tech Day and this morning I could easily join in the #satchat east coast or west coast to learn more. There's countless books I could dive into and read too. In summary, there's no shortage of learning opportunities when it comes to honing your craft and teaching better.

Yet, as I've written so many times before, there's not unlimited time and energy, and that's why educators have to think carefully about their path, time, energy, and service to others.

As I think ahead to the remaining months of this year and next year too, I want to be strategic about how I use time to teach well.

The focus of my professional development in the days ahead will be math/STEAM education. I want to work to elevate my efforts in this regard. I also want to build my ability to teach with cultural proficiency. I have to continually remind myself of these directions so I don't get swayed in other directions.

On the professional learning front, I'll focus in on these efforts.

SEL Research and Writing
This deep work is nearing its end--it has been a worthwhile, but arduous project. Tomorrow, I believe, will be my last full day devoted to this task.  

Math/Science Teaching 
I have a number of books/article to read, websites to revise, and materials/curriculum to organize this summer to uplift my work in this area.

Cultural Proficient Teaching Goal
There's still a good deal of paperwork in this regard. What's been challenging is that we are charting new paths and similar to charting a path in a forest, there's a lot of "brush to remove and trees to cut down" to build in better patterns and efforts to elevate our program in this way. All of this forging-new-paths work takes time, advocacy, and diplomacy. Specifically there are phone calls to make, permission slips to collect, events to attend, reading to do, and curriculum to organize. Specifically I have to develop a deeper knowledge of Frederick Douglas whose life is the example for our upcoming biography project and our visit to the African American History Museum in Boston. I also want to finish Emdin's books, return to my previous notes about his book, assess the strategies I used this year related to his research, and add more new teaching based on his ideas next year.

Community and Collaboration
I continue to adore our shared teaching model at fifth grade. And with that, I want to work with my colleagues to continue to create the best possible community of learners with students, educators, families, and administrators who work together to teach the grade-level program. Our PLC, RTI and grade-level meetings/efforts contribute to the growth and success of this program. We'll likely continue to follow the plan we created last summer, and then after several weeks of rest this summer, we'll revisit the plan as we think about next year. 

Teacher Teams and Support
Via my work at the local/state union levels and on some school/system teams I've been able to support vibrant teacher-led efforts and groups. I look forward to continuing that work as the local union secretary and state-wide union committee member. 

Health and Happiness
The inviting work listed above doesn't seem like work because I am dedicated and excited by the tasks. Overall I've learned that the work I like best is work connected to the daily teaching and learning, and when I have the necessary materials, supports, and leadership in place for this work, it's great work. Over the years I've worked with many colleagues in and out of my school to gain the support and materials needed to do a good job. I must say that at this juncture there is so much in place to support excellence and for this I am grateful. While it's not perfect, it is very, very good which creates a turn in the road where there's less need for advocacy close to my classroom, and greater need to dig in and do the terrific work possible with and for students. This turn in the road has also demonstrated that I have some catch-up to do at home and with regard to health as those areas took a bit of a back seat to the advocacy, education, and efforts necessary to create better paths to teaching well in the past many years.

No one educator can be all or do all. My colleagues at school and via my PLN are working on all kinds of terrific efforts similar and dissimilar to my work. Fortunately via the Internet and in real time, I have the opportunity to learn and grow via that work too.

Where are you headed professionally? What efforts are at the forefront of your work and study? How will those efforts support and contribute to the greater learning/teaching teams you belong to? These are valuable questions.