This year will be an adventure, no doubt. Here’s what I’d like to focus on in my classroom.
Some of this year’s goals take precedence over others, so I’ve numbered them in order of priority.
- Emphasize mathematical structure by implementing two specific instructional routines on a regular basis. This summer I spent four weeks taking a course with New Visions for Public Schools where I learned about the instructional routines Contemplate then Calculate and Connecting Representations. I have lots of routines in my class, but these feel different since they provide an explicit framework for learning. David Wees wrote a great post arguing for these types of routines and how they can impact teaching and learning.
- Bring more cultural relevancy into my practice. I’ve given so much thought to equity and identity this summer. It all began by reading This is Not a Test and my subsequent post this spring. For years I thought, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m doing a fine job honoring cultural and race in my teaching.’ I was wrong. I think I was always cognizant of equity issues, but I never took a deliberate approach to helping my students overcome stereotype threat, oppression, and other related issues. This summer I realized that I’m not close to doing right by my students.
- Honor my students through my lessons. This is closely related to #2. Sara brought this to my attention a little while back and it has stayed with me. I hope to take steps early in the year to learn about my kids beyond what they understand about content. Going beyond establishing relationships, translating this knowledge into tangibles that are evident in my lessons is the focus here.
- Develop interdependency amongst my students. I have thought out some group norms that I want to use for this. Hopefully the end result is a meaningful shift from relying on me to relying on each other.
- Strengthen my parental outreach. I have plans for a bi-weekly parent newsletter and an improved class website that provides a more transparent experience for my parents. Plus, I just want to put much more effort in making phone calls home.
- Get acclimated to my new school. I know that this will happen over time no matter what I do, but I am mindful of the process. This will be a completely new experience, and a significant part involves me discovering my role in the building and fostering relationships with new colleagues and students.
- Promote growth mindset through mistakes. My SBG does a fairly solid job because of the integrated retake exams, but I want attack this from the angle of honoring mistake-making as well. This goes beyond merely saying that mistakes and struggle are prerequisite to learning. I need to systemically embed mistakes into my lessons to fully convey and develop a risk-taking culture in my classroom.
- Homework. I need to get this right. Last year my system was pathetic. Admittedly, this is a work in progress, but I hope to find something that makes the most sense for my students. This may even include excluding.
- Assign projects. I’ve never been one who teaches through projects, but this year I want to take some baby steps in this direction. Maybe I don’t assign traditional projects with all the bells and whistles, but simple tasks that span a given unit and that go beyond homework.
- Assessing skills using a SBG approach. At EdCampNYC last spring, there was workshop that focused on this sort of thing. This seem far-fetched for me to accomplish, but it’s something that seems like the next logical step in the SBG process.