I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.
~ J. B. Priestley
There is something so exciting about the start of a new school year. The anticipation of meeting new students and new colleagues. Reuniting with friends and catching up on all that has transpired over the holidays. Pulling together all you have read, viewed and thought about over the break. Writing the first word on a clean page in a brand new day book. The first blog post. I love being a teacher!! In what other profession can you continually transform what you do and put your learning into practice immediately?
And yet, there is a a twinge of fear alongside the anticipation. What if I can't keep up? What if I forget and slip into my old comfort zone? How will I possibly balance it all - as a mother, teacher, wife, friend, colleague? There is always so much going on in education - trends, research, articles, blogs, websites, social networking, SOS marches, authentic assessment, problem based learning, inquiry, flipped classrooms, standards, outcomes - ahhhh! It can easily become overwhelming. I think it has become more important than ever to focus on what is personally important to you as an educator and filter the vast amounts of information that are tweeted into our lives 24/7. Find your own passion and you will be better prepared to help students uncover their own.
I have spent a good deal of my holiday trying to uncover my own passion, by paying attention to those ideas that spark the immediate 'of course!' or 'great idea!' reaction. This was a technique learned years ago while reading Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach - learning to pay attention to what speaks to us - not necessarily what we think it should be. After doing this for a few weeks I was able to see that the lines of thought I followed and the articles and posts I took the time to really read all shared the following characteristics.
It's all about the students and learning.We all know this, we all say this, but we don't always act as if this is the case. At least, I know I don't. Pressures from schedules and expectations from others make it far too easy for me to slip into a mind set of "I need to get this done." rather than stopping and asking, "Is this really best for my students?" Thus one of my goals for the upcoming school year is to be an advocate for my students. When decisions are to be made regarding curriculum or events I will ask myself first - "How will this impact students? How will it affect their learning? Their voice?"
When I slip (as I know I will!) I intend to go back and revisit the following:
12 Most Important Things to Know About Kids Today, Angela Maiers
Authentic Enquiry Design Principles, from Learning Emergence
Wood, Chip. "Changing the pace of school: Slowing down the day to improve the quality of learning." Phi Delta Kappan. 01 Mar. 2002: 545. Retrieved with Proquest using eLibrary.
Building a professional learning network is crucial.Finding a group of people who share your passions is an inspirational and motivating way to learn. They 'get' you - they understand your challenges because they've been there, too. I have always loved collaborating with colleagues, but like all teachers, finding the time to get together with educators from outside of my school to share ideas and experiences is difficult. Hello - Twitter! This simple micro-blogging programme has changed my life and the way I view professional learning networks. There are other social networking programmes, including the very latest - Google+, but it is Twitter that has shown me the power of an online PLN. This year I plan to turn to my network (both online and in person) whenever I discover something and want to share or when I hit a snag and need support.
Need convincing, check out these:
Twitter as a PLN, an article from What's New in the World
23 Resources About Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), Teacher Reboot Camp
Technology is changing the how, why, what and where of education.I love technology - I will happily and enthusiastically admit it. I love the 'cool' and 'wow' factors of something new and different - it's exciting! Yet...that is not why I believe technology is a vital element of education today. You simply cannot ignore the changes that technological advancements have brought about - our students live in a 'wired' world. If we continue to approach teaching and learning as we did in the past we are doing a disservice to our students, ourselves and ultimately, the future of our planet (okay - a little heavy for a back to school blog post!). Technology allows us to differentiate in ways that only a decade ago were impossible. Our students are now able to create and share with a global audience. They are able to collaborate with students from around the globe. Thus, another goal for this year is to remember the age we live in and act accordingly.
Flynn, William J. "FIVE TRENDS THAT ARE CHANGING THE EDUCATIONAL LANDSCAPE." Catalyst, The. 01 Apr. 2010: 29. Retrieved with Proquest using eLibrary.
What does this mean for the upcoming school year?
I stumbled across a wonderful description during my summer reading in a blog post by Shelley Wright discussing flipped classrooms. She described the classroom as a 'collaborative problem solving studio' for students ~ I love this idea. For me, it pulls all I am passionate about together - student learning, professional collaboration and technology. This year I will strive to create such a space with and for my students (as well as myself) to learn. If you have time, stop by @ 6C's Class Blog.