Saturday, June 23, 2018

Teach Well: 2018-2019 Job Description

This is my one word for the year ahead, a word and descriptors
that will lead my practice in conjunction with systemwide goals.

It was an exceptionally busy, but overall positive, end of the school year. Thanks to my grade-level colleagues' leadership, willingness to try out new ideas, and engage in countless big projects we truly had a project-based learning end-of-the-year which included the fifth grade play, Global Changemakers presentation, Global Cardboard Challenge, and Rivers/Wetlands week. We assessed the students' thoughts about some of these efforts and we were happy to find that most children found most events positive. 

As I think ahead to next year, I continue to work to embed the main focus of my work into my thinking and efforts--a main focus that will result in a year, not unlike this one, where every child makes significant learning progress, grows in self esteem, self worth, and self confidence, learns to work with one another in ways that matter, and uses their passions, interests, needs, and challenges as stepping stones to happy, fulfilling goal setting, learning, and results. 

With that in mind, I want to write myself a job description that will capsulate the year ahead. Of course this description may change in time as I learn of other systemwide, school-wide, and grade-level goals, but for now this will the description I'll work with.

Teach Well: Job Description

Create an engaging, students-first, respectful, and collegial learning environment
When setting up the teaching/learning environment make sure that there's inspiring signage, accessible teaching/learning materials, visible positive protocols and policies, and  routines that foster kind, caring, successful individual and collaborative learning and teaching. 

In real time this means streamlining the classroom supplies so that the best supplies remain. It means thinking carefully about the signage I have in the room and the signage that students will create to lead our class community. This also means talking about this with the grade-level team to garner the best ideas and continuing to build a collective community of teaching/learning success.

Design, enrich, and embed engaging, meaningful, scaffolded learning experiences that present a just-right challenge for students. 
Think carefully about the learning experiences integrated into the learning/teaching program. Assess informally and formally to learn which strategies work best and why. Continue to build these efforts in ways that help students achieve confidence, inspiration, and learning success.

Map the curriculum
Work with colleagues and systemwide expectations and structures to map the curriculum year in an effort to design a meaningful, engaging year of learning that results in meeting expectations, happiness, and lots of positive progress. Questions that might lead this work include the following:
  • Where did students succeed well given last year's learning map?
  • Where did we run into problems with achieving the teaching/learning goals?
  • What would you like to do differently? Why will that elevate the program for children?
  • What are our program priorities?
  • How can we use our collective service delivery time best to meet those priorities?
Know your students well. Develop strong relationships, and work with them to assess and then set meaningful learning goals.
Make time to get to know your students in meaningful ways. Listen to their words. Hear and observe their needs, challenges, passions, and interests. Work with them to set meaningful grade-level learning goals. 

Regularly assess, goal-set, engage in productive dialogue, and provide feedback with and for students.
See yourself as the coach who continually works with children to reach their academic and social-emotional learning goals with regular productive dialogue and helpful feedback.

Work collaboratively to establish positive teaching/learning routines and schedules.
Essentially positive routines and schedules result in students having the kinds of supports, independence, understanding, and daily exercises that help each child learn with confidence and success. Poor schedules and routines include lots of down time or passive teaching/learning time whereas more successful schedules find students actively and positively engaged in meaningful learning including productive struggle, good coaching, asking questions, project/problem based learning, apt practice, experiential learning, expert visitors, and presentation of learning results. 

Complete school-wide and systemwide requirements, and contribute to systemwide and school-wide discussions, endeavor, and initiatives when invited or inspired
No teacher can do all or be all, but all teachers have a valuable vantage point when it comes to systemwide decisions and efforts, so it's important for educators to speak up with respect, honesty, and care when invited or inspired to do so. It's vital to keep in mind when you do speak up that you are one voice and one vantage point, however your important perspective will not be heard if you don't speak up. In matters of great import, it's best to work with others in systematic ways to voice your concern, speak up, and if needed, make change.

Be a lifelong learner and continue to develop your professional practice and expertise
Acknowledge the areas in which you desire to develop your learning/teaching repertoire, and invest in reading, attending conferences, and building your expertise and skill in those areas regularly.