Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Confusion and Struggle Occur If You Don't Have a Plan

As I review the year's highlights and challenges, I recognize that most of the struggles occurred because of lack of a plan, and some of those missing plans occurred due to lack of good prep with regard to getting to know students well and also making time to create good, collaborative goals. We have to go deep at the start of the year to find out who students are and what's most important with regard to our efforts related to their learning.

The more you teach, the better you are able to see and deal with the details. When you first start teaching you are mostly concerned with meeting the expectations set and running a happy, productive classroom. As that becomes more natural, you begin to see the details more--the small areas of effort that will result in better teaching and learning for each and every student.

While I believe this was a successful year of teaching, I also believe we could have done more and better, and we will take what we know and apply it to next year's program. Next year, I hope to institute the following activities to teach better:
  • More short-term, scaffolded, standards-based mini projects in math to enlist greater student voice, choice, creativity, problem solving, editing, revision, and deep learning for all. 
  • Use of reflection journals for math homework.
  • Greater use of simple lab reports in science to foster greater systematic science study and exploration as well as personal reflection and explanations related to science learning.
  • Better study and targeting of students' IEPs and goals as one way to foster apt collaboration, prioritization, and goal setting at the start of the year--you can't teach everything, but when you prioritize you can teach important knowledge, concept, and skill well. 
  • Greater inclusion of SEL activities and focus as part of the curriculum and portfolio efforts. 
  • Establish standards-based environmental education with greater structure and focus with the support of Drumlin Farm staff. 
  • Better scheduling, communication, and process with regard to all collegial efforts
  • Continued mixed-modality learning menu including rotations, RTI, team days and field studies, expert visitors, special events, and all identified standards-based programs and efforts. 
When we simply let problems and mediocre work continue, we don't develop and evolve our individual and collective practice in ways that truly benefit students. Our collective effort to grow our program year after year has resulted in betterment and we will continue to follow this path in order to teach together as well as we can. Onward.