Saturday, July 27, 2019

School Year 2019-2020: Ready for a Great Year

In a few short weeks, the new school year will begin. Summer study is drawing to a close. Participation in the Wade Science Institute science program, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain book study group, and our grade-level teamwork related to our environmental education partnership with Drumlin Farm as well as our upcoming work related to math performance tasks, scheduling, data analysis, the curriculum map, and the nuts and bolts related to a positive teaching year creates a positive preparation for the year to come. I've done a lot of thinking about the year's schedule and focus too with regard to mindset and positive personal patterns. As I thought, I recognized that the following elements are essential for a successful year.

Don't book every minute of your time
Free time is critical to my happiness and good work, when I'm overbooked I don't do as well for anyone including myself. A positive weekly pattern that leaves good time to think and efforts related to personal health and happiness is essential.

Get away
My family planned a few significant, short getaways to break up the challenging routine that teaching presents. To book ahead generally saves money and to get away is always good for perspective.

Focus on the essential goals
The year's essential goals have been identified:

  • SEL: community building and supporting students' social emotional learning
  • STEAM education
  • Math education
  • Reading inspiration, encouragement, and teaching
These are my focus areas this year, and as I focus on these areas I want to pay attention to the state's focus which is teacher expertise and deep, engaging, standards-based, effective learning experiences. The state has provided many supports to develop this focus too. As I focus on these goals, I will notice past learning experiences and processes that have been successful and repeat those approaches and I will look to better experiences that are less successful on my own and with colleagues.

Listening and Collaboration
Fortunately I work in a school system with many bright, dedicated, and experienced educators. I want to make time to listen to their ideas, seek their mentoring, and develop our work together for the benefit of students and their families.

Give what you can and bit more
Teaching is a limitless job that can leave you tired and discouraged if you don't pace yourself. Committing to a 10-hour day with about eight hours with time on task with students and the remaining time for prep generally is a good schedule for me during the work week. It sounds like a lot, but that's what it takes me to do this job. Most days in the past I've exceeded that time, so this is a realistic goal I want to adhere to.

Professional Learning
This year I'm not signing on to a lot of extra learning outside of the school system learning events and my routine of daily reading, thinking, and learning with books, online resources/exchange, and school-centered learning efforts. I want to focus my professional energy mostly on the priorities above at school and at home. I will make sure to sign up for a couple of professional learning opportunities during the school year, however, opportunities the school system generally supports and pays for.

Next summer
I didn't complete all the efforts listed on my ambitious summer learning list, so next summer, I'll likely focus on website and Google doc organization so that the good curriculum materials I use are easy to find and share with others. 

Overall I expect the year ahead to be a positive, joyful year of positive service and partnership to and with the students, families, and colleagues I learn and teach with. I know that good work as an educator makes a positive difference in lives, and I'm committed to doing what I can to contribute.