Around this time each summer, I write a summer reflection on my teaching career, and what my goals are for the upcoming year. Usually I do this in my personal notebook, but this year I decided I would publish mine here – mostly, to encourage others to do so. I’ve found it to be a very powerful exercise in helping me improve my pedagogy.
There are three main goals I have for the upcoming school year. Each of these goals I’ve written about in general terms, without too many specifics. I have a number of other goals and targets, but I don’t want to get into those too much. The reflection below is a foundation upon which I will approach my next school year with.
Goal 1 – “Finish” Curriculum
A few years ago, I was teaching science. I was asked by my principal at the time if I would be interested in switching to a technology (more accurately, design) course. The head of the department would be retiring soon, and they were looking for someone to lead in that area. I said I would try it!
This, I believe, is the last year I will be working with that head of the department. That means we will be hiring a replacement soon. I want to make sure my curriculum, and all the improvements we have done over the last few years, are in a publishable format. I want to make sure that whoever comes in next has a streamlined curriculum with organized resources they can use right away.
This goal isn’t so much about “finishing” the curriculum, as it is about me being proud of it. The curriculum has been improving each year and I fully anticipate it to continue to be improved. What I want to make sure of, is that it is ready to be digested by a teacher who has never taught design before. I think I’m close to achieving this goal, but by the end of next year I want to make sure it is done!
Goal 2 – Create a Positive Behavior Structure
I believe I have a strong classroom management system, and strong classroom procedures. One of my challenges in previous years, is that part of my classroom management system is sending students out of class. This is a necessary step, because if a student is still disrupting class after all my interventions, they need greater resources than I can give them in that moment.
The problem I have found, is that some students feel that leaving class is its own reward. I don’t really think this is the fault of anyone – sometimes the systems we have in place don’t work. So I would like to add a positive behavior system to run parallel to my classroom management system, which is primarily negative reinforcement.
The idea here is twofold. First, it would provide further motivation and incentives for all students to be a contributing member in our classroom community. This would take the form of small prizes and rewards in class. Second, if a student is close to being sent out of class for disruption, there will be a positive system in place that could help them make a positive choice, but also an immediate tangible consequence if they make the wrong choice.
However, I need the system to be sustainable for me. I am considering using Class Dojo right now (since I teach in a computer lab), but I don’t have a lot of experience with it. I am considering this service because I have a colleague who is an absolute genius (hi Diane!) – she uses it daily with her students, and it’s magical to watch. I am hoping in the next month I can set up a system that doesn’t take intense effort, is sustainable for me to consistently implement, an at the same time is engaging for my students.
Goal 3 – Support My Colleagues
Last year I had the opportunity to work in some leadership roles throughout our school. This year I do not have that opportunity again – but I am realizing that I don’t need to hold a title to be a leader. I’ve always worked with a mindset of lead by example. This year, I would like to expand this even more.
We all know that teaching can be a very tough profession. I want to work in an environment that is friendly, fun, and positive! Handling the stress of the job is much easier when I enjoy work. To do this, I would like to use my experience and strengths to help my colleagues out. This includes a whole lot of different aspects, from hallway help, to management advice, curriculum support, and even just a cheerful wave in the hallway.
I believe I can be that positive force in our school for next year.
What is Your Reflection
These three goals will guide my approach to next school year. I am curious – do you write reflections, and set goals? Have you never considered it, but now you are? Or do you believe goals and reflecting are a waste of time in an overwhelming profession? I would love to hear your thoughts, and what goals or reflections you might have for the upcoming school year.