Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Year Resolutions

Summer is essentially over already, my mind, like the eye of Sauron, has shifted focus back to school. Actually it never really left as I spent most of June working on school stuff.  It was a good summer though, couple of short but good trips with the family, a raft of books read for pleasure, learning, and work.

To be honest though, aside from going back to 5 hours of sleep instead of the 8 I get during the summer, I am ecstatic about the new school year. Our MakerSpace is getting started up and I really think that considering the amazing kids at our school, this is going to blow the lid off and take us from a quirky, high
performing school to a truly exemplar school for innovation.

Last year was an amazing year and I fully expect this year to be even better, but as hits me every few years, I overdid it a lot. And with the new stuff I'm doing this year, there is a real chance to overwork myself into uselessness pretty quickly.  To that end, here are my new (school) year resolutions, and hopefully I can stick to them better than the plan to lose 40lbs.

  1. Concentrate on my classroom and school (mostly)- The last couple of years were the first where I really branched out a lot and got involved in a lot of things and issues philosophically with regards to education.  I actually love thinking about the philosophies of old school vs new, SBG versus traditional, and really diving into the issues of education nationwide.  I love it and will probably continue to read up and and think about it.  But last year in particular I think it had me lose a lot of focus on the things going on in my classroom.  I love teaching because of the kids and don't really want to leave the classroom, and won't unless money makes me have to.  But I need to put a tighter focus on my practice and the needs of each of my kids above all.  Ultimately, these education debates will still be fought 20 years from now and my kids need me this year.
  2. Stop being dogmatic- Over the past few years I've spent a lot of time transforming my teaching, making it more student centered, switching to SBG, focusing on the whole student aspect of things.  In short becoming a new agey sort of teacher which is pretty funny to those that know me personally.  but this past year, as I noted in some earlier blog posts, my strict adherence to the ideas of SBG, flipped, TLAP or whatever thing I was pursuing at that time really made me feel like I was in a teaching strait-jacket.  I'm going to let the philosophical ideas guide me but to restrict me.  No one is checking up on my pedagogical purity and it doesn't serve any real purpose.
  3. Ignore Twitter sometimes- This one is weird, because I can safely say that I would be a vastly different teacher without my interactions on twitter the past few years.  I've learned more about changing my teaching practice there than at anything else.  No PD has mattered as much, no rah-rah conference has motivated me as much.  But the fact of the matter is that sometimes on twitter I just get mad for a variety of reasons, ranging from people straw manning and overreacting to things, the witch hunts against people that don't believe the things, and especially, oh most especially, the pithy, airy, motivational quotes that mean absolutely nothing real.  I know I could eliminate a lot of these things from my feed, but at the same time, I want to be challenged in my assumptions, I don't just want an echo chamber of like minded people.  I already know not to feed the trolls, but I have to learn to avoid the things that detract from my emotional reserves a bit too much.
  4. Set aside time for my family- I am actually a great one for setting aside personal time for myself.  Having burned out before, I know that my own sanity revolves around remembering to pleasure read, to play a couple of video games most days, to hang out with my friends.  But since carpool with my
    whole family for hours every day, sometimes I go read a book to get away from the fighting that is inevitable when you have 3 boys separated by 4 years total.  But one thing the summer really solidified for me is that it isn't just about quality time, it's about quantity as well.  I've always been a big believer that I have to watch how much I work at home because it takes away from my boys, but I haven't held as true to that belief these past couple of years. Not this year!
  5. Don't change too much- I have a tendency to discover something new over the summer and want to upset the whole apple cart of what I do.  Instead, I've decided that this year, I'm going to focus on a major change in just one of my preps and some minor "tweaks" (I hate that word...why did I use it...) to my other classes. Not that I can't think of a hundred ways to make those classes better as well, but I'm going to triage and try to master one thing instead of dabbling in 20. 
Of all of those things, I suspect that the last one will be the hardest, but I am really going to try, I've laser focused on that one class the past few weeks, knowing that the others were fairly successful last year and there is only so much of me and my time.

All of that said, I cannot wait to get the kids back in my room(s)...every year here at STEM has been amazing so far and I have even higher expectations this year!

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