The end of August brings around the beginning of the new teaching year. Just like the one that we celebrate in January, the first day of school carries with it the hopes and dreams of a brand new academic year. This includes making (and hopefully not breaking) resolutions. In an attempt to increase the likelihood I follow through with these goals, I am a) writing them down and b) sharing them with the world. Hey, it’s supposed to help with those January 1 resolutions, so why not with my school year ones too?
Please note – these are, I think, my big goals. I’ve got other little ones too, but this post would go on for a while if they were included.
Goal 1: Strike a Better Balance Between Home and Work
I accept the fact that there will be take-home work with teaching (much to the dismay of my loving and supportive wife). If I’m not careful, I easily lose myself in correcting papers, planning lessons, or reading on the latest and greatest in education, ultimately zapping time away from “family time”. Never has this been as important than this year. See, not only do I have a wife and a ten year old son waiting for me at home, a pair of newborn twin daughters now await my arrival. Between soccer games, snuggle times, time with the missus, and my own after school activities, I don’t think I’ll have a lot of time after work to spend on my take-home work.
The plan: This isn’t my first go around with balancing my work and home lives, and over the years I’ve made significant strides in keeping the two in check. Some things that I believe will help me along the way are…
* Better use of my prep time (ie less socializing);
* Streamlining lessons and assignments (more items shared via Google Docs, fewer paper submissions, rubrics that aren’t afterthoughts);
* Fighting my procrastinating side and just do the grading already (or, at least do a little bit at a time to combat the feeling of being overwhelmed);
* Stressing quality over quality when it comes to homework and exam questions.
Goal 2: Take a Jump into Supplementing My Grades With Standards Based Grades (SBG)
My class last year struggled with the sixth grade math topics. In the plethora of things I attempted in my quest to help my kids, standards based grading seemed to give a glimmer of success to even my most struggling and checked-out youngin. I gave quizzes, allied them to retake them after meeting with me, and tracked their progress through various skills along the way. I felt it gave them a better sense of what they knew vs didn’t know (and where they needed to apply extra effort) than compared to a percent grade. I saw attitudes of “I don’t get this and never will” begin to give way for “I don’t get this part, but this other skill I do get, do it’s not all hopeless”.
The Plan: Particularly in math, I would like to include an element of SBG with my grades this year. I believe the Common Core standards provide a great base for what my standards should be. A struggle for me was keeping track of student progress – how to best keep a record of progress and turn some of the record keeping over to them. Part of me thinks I can accomplish this by gamifying the process, issuing badges as they “level up” in mastery of the skills. I’ve started to dabble with this idea. Some examples of actual badges and classroom use would be a nice help.
Goal 3: Professional Development
Last year was my inaugural year of reading education-center blogs and using Twitter to create personal learning network (PLN) and keep current with educational trends and practices. Lots of what I was exposed to made its way to the inboxes of my colleagues, and some snuck its way into my classroom.
The Plan: This year, I’d like to do the following…
* Move from a lurker on Twitter who makes an occasional post to one who contributes more often. This includes participating in a middle school math chat ( #msMathChat) or a Tuesday session of #edChat.
* Attend an Edcamp.
* Continue to blog here about what is going on in my classroom and with me as a teacher. Create a classroom blog to showcase my kids’ work.
* Get ready for the GRE’s. I want to go back for an Ed.D (or maybe a second masters, I don’t know) focusing on STEM education. But first, I need to take the blasted GRE’s.