Friday, June 29, 2018

Revisiting Focus and Need: School Year 2018-2019

2018-2019 Goals
I keep thinking about the next school year. Many advise me to put school aside during the summer, and not think this way, but others advise me to listen to that voice inside and follow what it is saying. That voice is prompting me to think about the year ahead so that I can meet my teaching/learning goals and gain that sense of satisfaction that makes me proud of who I am as an educator.

My assessment does not come from a place of frustration with the past years of teaching, but instead with a vision that I'm reaching for, a vision that will empower my work and effort so that at the end of 2018-2019, I will feel that I've made good progress.

I've clearly outlined my goals in the picture and word at the top of the page. I've written about the challenges that will occur as I reach for these goals and the work I need to do to reach the goals. Since I am essentially leading myself forward, to reach these goals does take a very detailed approach that is supported by specific efforts--efforts I continue to think about as I lay a path ahead to doing this good work.

So as I think more specifically, I want to begin with the strengths. What is it about the current teaching/learning program that is working. As I think about this, I would say the following efforts have been successful:
  • super teamwork amongst the grade-level team--teamwork that has helped us to teach every child well
  • positive, regular, and helpful communication with the greater teaching team including families, students, and colleagues--we write a weekly newsletter and maintain a grade-level website that has all needed information. We also host twice-a-year family/student conferences and readily respond to emails and other requests regarding the teaching. We also share regular data reports with families and promote students' showcase portfolio efforts as avenues for reflection, goal setting, and program design. 
  • teaching all standards and following district curriculum expectations--we met the district's expectations and taught all standards
  • happy students and families--in general we get few to no family/student complaints as a grade-level, students and families are happy overall with our teaching/learning program
  • welcoming learning environments--our classrooms invite students into the learning with comfortable seating and lots of teaching/learning resources
  • collegial collaboration--in many instances we have experienced and contributed to terrific collegial collaboration as evidenced in our efforts with the fifth grade play
  • program development--we have sought out professional learning events and grants to develop the teaching/learning program related to our collegial collaboration, science teaching and learning, the global changemakers project and classroom environments. We also make the time each summer to map the curriculum program and add a significant number of special, engaging learning events and activities.
  • positive results--overall our informal and formal assessments demonstrate positive grade-level results.
There is definitely room for growth however, growth I desire as I dig into the details of teaching well. In many ways, I feel like my role in education is to be an example of what education can be--an example of successful teaching and learning, teaching and learning that embeds valuable research and practice into students' daily learning. What more can I do in this regard.
  • listen with greater discernment. I receive lots of direction from many who lead my work--sometimes that direction is well researched and valuable and other times that direction seems to be less research/experienced-based. I want to listen carefully to the many directives I get and meet those directives with respectful, yet discerning, questioning and response. I don't want to follow advice and directives that may not be based in good research and practice, but I do want to follow those directives that are based on well-researched decision making and process. In the past, directive based on less research/experience have upset me, and in the future, I want to recognize that those directives will continue and it's best to respond with respectful questioning rather than frustration at what seems like disrespectful directives. 
  • create a more welcoming, positive, collaborative teaching/learning environment. Throughout my career this has been a goal since I continue to change the way I teach and the environment I create for teaching and learning. This year I am receiving new furniture which will help me to create the collaborative learning environment I desire. I want to continue to follow the motto, "everything in its place and a place for everything" to help me meet my vision for the student-centered, hands-on learning/teaching environment.
  • less is more will direct my teaching/learning efforts. I can be blamed for trying to do too much, and that's why I've created my goals poster early--the goals poster points to my main areas of focus for the year ahead, areas which are supported by district leadership and goals. I will work within those boundaries, boundaries which I feel are positive for students' current and future success. 
  • stay classroom/team-focused. As a big thinker, I often find myself trying to solve the bigger problems in the district where I teach and in education in general. This year I hope to take a back step in this respect and focus in more on what I can do in the classroom and at the grade level.
  • fostering a polite, kind, and respectful classroom. Too often I don't take the time needed to carefully review the protocols, policies, and manners that lead a respectful, kind classroom. In part I do this because there is lots of pressure to begin the standards-based teaching I'm expected to do right away. Yet when we rush the integral early year review and practice of respectful policies and protocols, we don't do what we can to create a respectful, kind, and well-mannered class of students. This year I will make more time for this in order to help my students be the empathetic, compassionate, and kind school leaders that they can be. 
  • teach the standards with greater rigor, depth, and engagement. While I believe this has been a strength in my work, I also know that there's more I can do in this regard. To do this well requires that I read a number of books this summer to deepen my standards-based teaching/learning efforts. The books are piled on my bookstand and I look forward to deepening my efforts in this regard.
  • develop deeper and better student service schedule and routine with all service providers. There is a desire amongst many team members to re-look at the way we schedule and provide service delivery. To do this well means that we have to pay careful attention to students Individualized Education Plans, needs, and services. We also have to prioritize what services are most important to students' success, and then set up a weekly pattern where students' services will rarely be interrupted and will result in lots of targeted, research-based, successful service delivery. 
  • health and happiness. It's essential that educators take good care of themselves so they have the energy, health, and happiness to teach well. This requires a healthy weekly routine and self-care practices such as healthy lunches, drinking water, and completing personal tasks which gives educators the kind of time, health, and happiness they need to teach well. 
No one is the best teacher. We all have areas of our practice that are successful and areas that we can continue to improve. I'm thankful to have time this summer to commit to the vision I hold to teach well. Onward.