Well, the new year is upon us, and I have to admit that this is a time of year that I really enjoy. I like reflecting on what has happened in the past, greatly anticipate what is ahead, and eagerly set goals so that I can get the MOST out of myself, my students and our times together.
So, with that in mind I am posting a few of the “resolutions” and goals that I have been pondering for my classroom as the countdown to 2011 approaches. Be sure to add some of your own if yours isn’t on the list:
1) More meaningful comments: Nothing speaks more to a student than specific, focused comments on their homework. This new year, I would like to prioritize comments on my student’s homework. No assignment is too large or small - in each there is an opportunity for my students to grow and demonstrate new skills, new discoveries, and the accomplishment of their goals. I would really like to use my comments as a way to point out their accomplishments, to remind them of the ways in which they are making progress, and giving them greater instructions so that their work can be continually refined. While I want to work SMARTER and not HARDER, I believe that more focused and meaningful comments will definitely be worth the time and effort!
2) Making room for more individuality and greater creativity: Over the holidays I read somewhere a quote from Sir Ken Robinson, that states “creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”
How can my students really be creative if I give them assignments with no room for differentiation? Or options? How can I ensure that they feel that they can be creative in their presentations, in their problem-solving abilities, and in their methods of reasoning?
a) Showing possibilities – I think that I can model creativity by showing my students examples of different assignments and exemplars.
b) Co-create rubrics and criteria – it is essential that my students don’t feel that they will be penalized for thinking outside the box. I need to make sure that the rubric will not penalize them for being creative.
3) Opportunities for praise: Another great goal to have for the new year is to consistently look out for opportunities to PRAISE my students, be it inside the classroom or outside the classroom. It might be that a student is holding the door for a teacher, or helping a little one with their mitts on the playground, or being patient in the line-up at the water fountain. By making a BIG deal of these little things… I can celebrate the behaviours I want to see and hopefully inspire more. A phone call home, a note in an agenda, or acknowledging kindness in front of the room… that is how I plan to praise. Now, I know that there are perils when it comes to praise – – – but I believe that it is “dangerous” only when it is focused on academics alone, or used as a way of manipulating rather than inspiring. I truly think that by praising my students, I am thanking them and showing gratitude for the great contributions they make to our community.
4) Exploring new technology tools: With a quick web-search I can fairly easily find phenomenal resources that are easily adapted for my specific topic of study. It is amazing how technology is an instant grab for my students, and how it incites some of their most creative and best work. I want to commit this new year to trying a minimum of two new technologies or websites a week.
5) Networking with others: Twitter, Edublogs, and connecting through the blogging world – there is a wealth of information and inspiration out there for teachers of all ages and with all different levels of experience. I want to commit to being an engaged partner in these great teacher networks and make meaningful connections and comments.
What about you?
What are your goals for your classroom in 2011?
HAPPY NEW YEAR!