As 2016 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the year and the educational goals that I have for the upcoming year. In many ways, 2016 was an amazing year, but it was equally challenging and difficult. It was a year where I felt that I grew as a teacher but was also knocked off my feet a few times. To quote Doctor Who (yes, I am a major nerd):
The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.
It was a good year – a great year. It was challenging, but I wouldn’t change a second because it helped me to grow, both professionally and personally.
For 2017, I have created five goals that I would like to accomplish within the next year. By creating these goals, I hope that it will hold me accountable to participate in some opportunities to grow as an educator and a person.
Goal #1: Blog Once a Week
I created this blog about three years ago but did not consistently begin using it until the last four months. Mostly, I found it discouraging to write but not have my thoughts or ideas heard. Once I joined Twitter, I was able to blog and have dialogue with teachers all over the world. It’s been amazing and it is something that I want to continue throughout the next year.
Through blogging once a week, I am able to reflect upon my educational practices. I am able to collaborate with teachers across the world and discuss ideas that will affect student learning in a positive way. In addition to this, I also find it to be therapeutic to sit and write about my thoughts and ideas or, simply, to share about my day at school. Blogging has become an amazing resources for me to grow as an educator that is reflective and willing to learn and try new things in the classroom.
Goal #2: Increase Math Literacy
Increasing literacy within the Math classroom has been a goal of mine for the last year and it is one that needs to continue to be a goal. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) require students to be model literacy within all subject areas. Although this is a challenge for students and teachers, it is a good challenge that increase the rigor and relevance within the curriculum. For the teachers, this is quite the task. Our students are used to being given only “skills based” questions where they are asked for a specific answer. This is still important, but it is also important that are students are able to write, use academic vocabulary, and explain the thought process within the Math class.
Therefore, my goal this year is to increase math literacy within my classroom by implementing more performance tasks, vocabulary activities, and close reading strategies. I want to expose my students to skills problems, but also real-world, application-based problems that require them to use their “skills” to come to a conclusion by explaining their process and answers.
Goal #3: Create an Inquiry-Based and Organized Genius Hour Project
I heard about the “Genius Hour Project” a couple of years ago from a former teacher. I instantly fell in love with the idea! The premise of the Genius Hour Project is that students are given some time each week to explore a topic, related to Math, in which they are personally interested. Last year, I tested out this project with my students and it was very successful. They had some truly unique ideas, such as creating a dream bedroom, statistical research projects on school change, comparing Lego buildings to actual buildings, creating catapults, etc.
Although I feel like this project was successful, my goal this year is to create a more structured Genius Hour Project that still allows room for student choice but emphasizes the skills that they will be using within the project. For instance, I want the students to submit a “Project Proposal” which will include their objective, hypothesis, and mathematical skills that will be used. In addition to this, I also want it to be a collaborative project that includes a final presentation. I am still brainstorming some more ideas, but I think I have a few of ideas where I would like to see this project go.
Goal #4: Collaborate with Classes Across the Country/World
Collaborating with classes across the country/world is one of my more lofty goals for the next year but I think it is very possible. In fact, I already have a teacher in mind that might be willing to assist me in this endeavor. Collaboration and communication are important skills that students need to have to be successful in the future. (Yes, this is a nod to our 4 C’s plan in our district – yay HUSD!) However, I think that we often forget that collaboration and communication can extend far past the walls of our school. With the technology that our students have in the classroom, it is very easy for them to collaborate and communicate with students in other parts of the country, or even the world.
Therefore, my goal this year is to connect with one classroom to collaborate on a project, whether in my Math or AVID class. It would allow students the opportunity to practice their 4 C’s skills, while using technology that they will be using in the future. The goal is to get students prepared for the 21st century and creating diverse learning opportunities, such as this, allows students the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways.
Goal #5: Develop a PLN Beyond the Borders of My School
Professional Learning Networks (PLN’s) are essential for the success of a teacher. In my seven years of teaching, I have had many different professional experiences on a variety of different campuses, including private, charter, and public schools. When I was in the private schools, I did not have anyone to collaborate with as a Math teacher. I was the Math department. I could only collaborate with myself. When I moved to the public school system, I found that developing a PLN was essential for my growth as a teacher.
This year, my goal is to develop a PLN that extends beyond the borders of my school. By doing this, I am able to bring more ideas to my “home” PLN from the amazing resources that exist all of the world. I am hoping that my PLN will consist of other educators that work in the district, but also educators from all over the country and world. The world is full of educators with ideas and excitement for teaching. I want to develop a PLN of these educators to grow as a teacher, help others grow, and to do what is best for our students. I think it very important to surround yourself with like-minded educators as a support system. Teaching can be a rewarding, but draining profession. It is helpful to have people to lean on during those crazy days.
If you want to join my PLN, talk to me! Whether it is a Google Hangout, or Voxer, or Twitter – let’s learn together!