Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Start of a new Learning Path in your new school year

While I read about other teachers' new school year start I consider mine, and I realize, I don't want to talk about this.  As usual, it was stressful with new students, new courses, new rooms, new colleagues and a million of other new things.  This event did not inspire a passion for teaching; rather it exhausted me and continues to do so (the first two weeks are always stressful when you are in charge of computers and still teaching).  You need to learn about new students, understand where each student is at and where you and they want to be at the end of the semester, build relationships with the students,  learning their learning profiles, their strengths, weaknesses, etc.  You need to create a working relationship with new parents, get current contact information, get emails, tell them what you hope they will help you with and what you hope you can do for them. Most of this is done (or try to do) in only an hour and a bit each day, until the next group comes in and you start over again with 30 some new kids.  I can go on and on and I think I'll stop now!!

So what does inspire me to start this year with a strike on, parents, students and colleagues all upset?  My passion is the continuation of learning, both with the students and for the students.  During our professional development session, teachers were asked to create one goal for the year, only one so they could focus on this passion.  This idea came forward from some readings through Twitter on self-directed learning and self-directed managing.  

So what is your goal?  Perhaps Chris Lehmann can help teachers start with their goal.  He recently wrote the following:
You have to be one school. You cannot want one thing for students and another for teachers…If we want classrooms to be active places, so must our faculty meetings be.   If we want to feel cared for by teachers, then we must care for teachers. If we want students to be able to engage in powerful inquiry, so must teachers.

You want your students to become 21st Century Learners, then so must we.  So we too must set goals to make ourselves a better teacher.   

While thinking of your goal of your teaching year you need to consider where you will learn from, your sources, who may help you, is their mentoring available, and what sources of social support and accountability you have built into your learning plan.   Consider the following:

  1.  Who has already learnt from this and what can you get from their learning.  There are a number of books already available from a number of sources.  Find them. 
  2. Use the Social networks out there.   Tweet out to others, asking if someone else has been working in this area.  Consider where you tweet - Use hash tags of your district (#sd36) or open it up to all.  Someone is also passionate about the area you are interested in, and can help.  When doing something for the first time (learning something new), it's nice to have a friend along for the ride so both of you can bounce ideas off each other.  Most teachers are natural sharers at heart, and the media of social networking is a great place to share.
  3. If you are continuing an area you've already started, this can still be your goal, to go further in this area and you can help mentor someone else just starting.  To teach someone a new skill only reinforces your skills more, and helps you see further into the area you are teaching, by seeing through new eyes.
  4. Consider the evidence of your goal and how you will know you have reached this goal.  What will tell you that you have accomplished what you have set out to do?  Sometimes you never do, but make the goal attainable, or maybe smaller goals to reach your main goal.  Remember that when you teach students you break up the task to smaller steps, which are attainable for success.  Sometimes your goal will take more then one year, but that too is fine.  Go step by step.  As the old saying goes “Rome was not built in a day”.  Well I don’t believe the educational system will change in a day, but a number of people in a school changing the way they educate students will make a difference, even if it’s one child at time.  Always remember, you as a teacher make a difference to the world of a child.

    This is a video of the Closing Keynotes speaker from Chris Lehmann from the ISTE 2011 Conference.  Take the few minutes to watch this video, to be moved, motivated, to be passionate, to change your way of thinking of education, and to set your goal to help our students, our kids.  The passion is there, the passion can grow, grow your mind, grow your passion, let your passion inspire the passion of learning in your students, and pass on the feeling...  This is my goal this year, to help others (both teachers and students) to be as passionate as I am about becoming a lifetime learner.  Help them to enjoy learning again.

    Always remember that all of our goals should consider the following."The most important thing that we do is to teach the child in front of us  to become a fully realized person...  If you take nothing else, make sure you realize that these tools, these amazing things we have learned, all that we have done this week has done serves nothing else but to help us all become better people.   So therefore when people ask you what you teach do not say I teach Math, I teach English, I teach Second Grade, say simply I teach children.  That is your job, that is all we endeavor to do...  I want four things for our children.  I want them to grow up thoughtful (full of thought), wise, passionate and kind "

    I want teachers to be the same, to model these characteristics in their goals.

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