There are two inspirations for my New Year’s Reflections and Resolutions: the sketchnote from @SylviaDuckworth and the hashtag on Social Media for #OneWord.
Things I do well and will continue to do
- Actively attending conferences. This means I go out of my way to make connections expanding my PLN and I submit proposals to present. It is not passive.
- Create & Curate. I love creating resources for my classroom. I will continue to create and share my creations with the world and with my PLC (who benefit directly since we teach the same content). The only thing that would tempt me away from teaching would be to create digital teaching resources full time.
Something I want to stop doing
- Gossip. I have a strategic classroom location, so I hear rumors from all parts of the building. But I want to stop being part of the gossip mill. It will be hard to resist, but I realized that it is having a negative impact on the environment and the sense of community. Our building doesn’t feel like a family anymore.
Person you want to improve your relationship with
- My childhood best friend. After working so hard for the past ten years, I realize the success I have had in education has come at the expense of some of my long lost friends. I want to reconnect with people who used to bring me such joy and laughter. I might be a teacher, but I am still allowed to have a life, if only on the weekends.
Things you will do to set outside your comfort zone
- Share more of my personal life. I have always tried to keep my personal life and my professional life completely separated. My students know very little about me outside of travel stories or educationally relevant content. However, the student demographics are changing, and I think they would benefit from knowing that other people survive struggles growing up and thrive. I might not have faced the same challenges as them, but life was not always easy for me, but it does improve with hard work and growing up.
- Be ridiculous for good causes. I have dressed up twice in the past month in ridiculous outfits: once as an incentive reward for students donating to the food drive (they brought in the accessories that I sported all day) and the other was for an Ugly Christmas Sweater contest. Students who rarely smile were very excited to contribute to my ugliness. It was almost team building. In February I will be going outside of my comfort zone and potentially letting them cut my hair for charity.
- Stand up to adult bullies. There are many adults who have bullied their way through life. No matter how uncomfortable, at work and in my personal life, I need to stand up to them. This is especially true at school when students hear us telling them that bullying should not be tolerated, but they see the adults being cruel in a joking manner with each other. The xenophobic feelings that have increased in our country need people to stand against the targeted negativity towards people who are different.
- Ask the students how they feel. This sort of connects with my first bullet. In the past I have wanted a division between personal and professional, but what if letting the two mix a little improves them both? I will ask students more about their lives to help them make personal connections to the lessons. I will listen to their random stories and genuinely care.
- Publicly admit failure. I will blog more about the lessons that were a disaster and not just the ones that are brag worthy. For example, the week before winter break my students created a project. But one disaster led to another. The solution by the IT Department was to delete the app remotely and re-install it on all the student iPads. Of course, that means all my students lost their work. They still learned and created, there is just not evidence. This is why student choice is important in the medium for creation. If I didn’t tell them which app they had to use, the problem would have only affected a few of them. Also, backing up work is necessary.
- Run in races. I run for fun, but this will challenge me outside of my comfort zone. It might also motivate me to take running and my health a little more serious for this year.
My #OneWord for 2016
Challenge. I want to challenge my students to achieve even more. All of the students will benefit from more challenge and less rote thinking, as long as I am there to support them when they might feel frustrated. I also want to teach them (by modeling myself) to challenge the assumptions and bias that is so prevalent in the media today and with stereotypes that have been ingrained in American thought. The world will be a better place with a little challenge.