Tuesday, July 23, 2019

New Year...New Goals

I know...I know... It's still July. I shouldn't be posting anything educational for at least another two weeks, right?

You'll get over it. Cause whether your ready or not, the school year is quickly approaching. And for those about to start their first teaching job, or those (like me) starting in a brand new position, that start date is not just approaching, it's comin' at us at warp speed!

I always seem to be thinking about new stuff, changes I can make to my classroom, ways to get better, and ways to make better, easier to accomplish. This comes through reflection. Where are my weaknesses, where are my students' weaknesses, how can I use my classroom to help improve both my own struggles and my students?

This can be overwhelming. Cause we all have weaknesses. We all struggle. And we all have areas that can be improved. I'm going to throw my focus into two things this year. A focus for me and a focus for my students... BUT it's one thing to say I have a goal...the real magic is in the PLAN. How am I going to make it happen?

GOAL 1: My Focus - - Survival.
Seriously. I'm starting a new position, moving from doing the same thing for the last 13 years to something I haven't done in the classroom since student teaching.  All while experiencing a VERY busy time in my personal life. 4 littles at home ages 7 and younger. Yup. FOUR. Yup. They're all mine. Yup. I know how this happens... They were all planned ;o)

The PLAN: I have a certain way I like to do things. But sometimes, in the name of survival, I have to back off from my obsession with creating everything for my classroom myself and lean on those around me. I have an amazing PLN on Twitter, Facebook, and within the state of Kansas. And for the first time in my career I have other teachers in my building who teach the same thing I do. I have colleagues to lean on, discuss ideas with, and steal borrow materials while I keep my head above water. Then make changes in 2nd semester and as time goes on, continue to build on the classroom I love.

GOAL 2: Student Focus - - Organization. 
I'll be honest. This goal is one I had planned for this year, even if I was still planning to be in the middle school. One thing that has been a struggle for my teenage students is organizing and keeping track of what they need to do. It is something that we, as teachers, complain about, but RARELY GIVE TIME OR INSTRUCTION ON HOW TO DO THIS. I have always been a teacher from bell to bell. We pack a ton of stuff into one class period. I never really made time for my students to organize in class. This needs to change. My class is not so important that I can give them 3-5 minutes to help build some organizational habits.

You see... being in a 1:1 district both at my old school and now at my new one, email is a necessity for students. It just is. You can debate whether or not it should be another time. Reality is...kids need to check their email. They also need a way to keep track of their stuff "to-do." Whether that's making a list on Google Keep or using a old-fashioned sticky note...they need a running list of what needs to get done and by when.

The PLAN: In order to help them establish these two habits, I am going to dedicate the first 3-5 minutes of my class period to checking email and updating their to-do lists. Some kids will never actually open their email (because it isn't something they use on a daily basis as 14-17 year olds) or even know where to begin to make a list and prioritize their work. I'm hoping this helps develop that habit.

Also, I'm going to play a song everyday when they come in the room. While the song is playing, they'll have a chance to check their email and update their to-do list. I will show them Google Keep (basically an online "sticky-note) and I'll have a bunch of actual sticky notes available to them if they want to write it down and stick it to their laptops. The point of the song is to be an audio clue for them (and me) to start the class with those tasks. I'm hoping that if I forget, they will remind be because they will miss music at the start of class.

I'm stopping there. Those are my two points of focus for the first semester. Then, before starting in January I can re-evaluate and see what changes I need to make. I'll ask for student input and see what they suggest as well.

Are you a goal setter? What are you looking to improve upon this year? What is your PLAN to make it happen?