Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Years Nuts and Bolts

My mind wanders towards all kinds of awesome ideas, yet I know those ideas are worth little if I don't attend to the substantial foundation work that's needed to give the ideas good structure and support. Hence the new year will begin with lots of nuts and bolts--the essential ingredients to creating a strong foundation for good learning and new ideas.

The Learning Community
Upon arrival, I'll welcome students back with positivity and we'll get back on track with learning. We'll begin with a reflection related to a past assessment, and some warm-up work for the math unit ahead. The teaching team will review our to-do list, and send out a newsletter to update families on upcoming events and teaching/learning focus.

The New Math Unit
I'll use what I learned during the past math units and students' reflections as I lead the new unit of study. I'm looking forward to building upon our past learning, and helping every child succeed with this unit in the weeks ahead.

Science Lab
I've been looking for the time to set up the new science lab and begin our new study. It seems that the time is here, and I look forward to the excitement students will feel as they embark on this new study--a study that will help them learn the state standards and enjoy science as well.

Union Work
At the local level, I'll continue to so my secretarial job which includes keeping the website up to date. Further, I'll work with other board members to update our handbook and bylaws draft in the next few months. Later the draft will be reviewed by the board, then reviewed and approved by the membership. There's not a lot of big changes needed, but there is the need for lots of updates to reflect our more modern age of local union work. At the state level, I'll continue to serve on the Teaching and Professional Learning committee, take part in one or more of the courses that MTA division offers, and learn more about advocacy as I've chosen public schools as one area that I will focus on with regard to advocacy and voice in the year ahead. I know that strong public schools lay the foundation for a strong and successful country, and I believe that many of our country's political leaders have lost sight of that so I want to get more active in that realm.

Professional Learning
In addition to the professional learning I'll do with the union, I'll continue to develop my repertoire in all subject areas through a number of professional learning events beginning with my work with The Teacher Collaborative, and then hopefully via some engaging study related to special education in math, geography/history via an NEH Institute, and a good amount of professional reading.

I want to observe closely the many teams I am apart of. Teams where I have a good deal of voice and choice are teams that I'll give the most energy too. Teams where my voice is less respected or heard will be teams that I mostly observe to understand how those teams work and why teachers' voices are less respected and heard. I may later advocate for more teacher voice/choice with those teams, but for now, I'll observe, listen, and learn to understand more.

Professional Presentations
I don't love presenting at conferences and workshops because I don't like the distance I feel from the learners in the room. When I teach in the classroom, there's a great deal of intimacy involved--I know my learners well and truly want to meet their needs and forward their capacity. That interchange is motivating for me. Yet in a presentation room, I don't know the learners and it's difficult to gauge who they are and what they want to learn in a one or two hour sessions. Yet, I like the challenge of presenting, and I feel strongly that there are practices that I use and knowledge that I have that will be  helpful to others, hence I continue to propose workshops and present from time to time. This is an area of professional practice, I want to think more about.

Again and again I list my priorities as it's easy to lose track of what's most important as an educator. I think it's easy to lose track because many of us are leading ourselves in the profession. We don't have a lot of leadership that truly cares about our individual paths, hence if we really care about doing a good job, we have to stay mindful of our work and lead ourselves.

Of course, if I were in charge of the world, I would make sure that educational organizations were much more dynamic. By that I mean that they would be organizations where all stakeholders had voice and choice, and all stakeholders were continually involved in worthy goal setting, idea exchange, learning, and developing. I'm sure some of these educational organizations exist, but in general, the old hierarchal structure of schools that is pervasive, in my opinion, is not a dynamic structure, but instead one where teachers are often isolated from the good work and promise possible. Hence, we have to motivate from within, lead ourselves, and seek dynamic partnerships within our schools and outside in order to build our capacity and reach forward to teach well.