I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my goals for next year. I’m a big planner. I like figuring out how to do things better. I also tend to get carried away and come up with more things than I can possibly do. I can list ten awesome goals, but I doubt I could actually accomplish them all–and maybe even any of them if I really stretch myself too thin.
This past year my schedule sucked. I had to share a room, move rooms for one class and had three completely different preps. My desk was shoved in front of a closet, there was nowhere to put anything, I was just back from a year’s leave. It was transition.
Right now, I’m teaching Freshman Connection, a four week program where students have 90 minutes each of math & reading and 40 minutes of counseling Monday-Thursday and go on a field trip on Friday. They get familiar with the building, free breakfast and lunch, meet some teachers and students. I teach two 90 minute sections and get an hour of prep. We’re supposed to spend a good chunk of time playing critical thinking and computation games, and I’m a fast planner, so I’ve got a lot of time on my hands.
And so I plan…
I want to choose my areas of focus so I can be intentional and when I start to overwhelm myself in my good-idea-spiral, snap out of it.
This year, I have two preps. One is being reworked (our Algebra 1) but we have an awesome team, all of whom I’ve worked with before. I have my own room, with another teacher using it during my first period prep. Plenty of storage space. It’s time to get things together!
So, what’s been rattling around in my head?
- We’re semi-standards based but a friend at another school was pushing my thinking on how she does it. What I do now is ok but could definitely improve and be clearer. However, we’re getting a new platform next year, (our current one is terrible for SBG) and I don’t know what it will be like. This is partially philosophical and partially logistical.
- Google Classroom: In the olden days I did a class blog, but Google Classroom is made for that and more. I will be doing this for sure, but how much do I want to try to use it?
- TI Navigator: I definitely don’t use this to its fullest potential, but 3 of the 4 teachers on my team will be this year. That added brainstorming can really help us take things to the next level. I especially want to use more quick polls (as assessments) and collect documents from the class, as well as use some of the files TI provides.
- Google Drive: I do not understand Google Drive. I need to learn. I’m not excited about this one, but my NHS officers keep asking why I didn’t share things that I thought I had. Ugh.
- Make sure I can a) use all my amazing resources and b) actually only have amazing resources
- Determine how best to organize resources. They may be found in: Books. Activities, Files, Binders, Blog posts, Dropbox, NCTM, Desmos and more
- Make some priorities. My coworker calls it a warchest–decide what books/activities/whatever is worth the chest
- Make it useable and easy to access–How many locations are acceptable? How much does portability matter?
- Decide on a Philosophy: Is there one copy of everything in the binders? Ok to look in both binders and files? Should activities be stored by topic WITH papers or separate?
- Start new binders from scratch–move over anything useful from previous binders.
- Pre-tab and start all binders with a table of contents. Dumb but true, I have binders with dividers and no labels. Why?!
- Start new file drawers. Basically, I need a semi-clean slate.
- Set draft prompts about topics and focus on making sure I write. Tell others for accountability. (Ha, hi!)
- Be more responsive to student data (pick 2 skills, 2 ? exit slip with must & may, track data). One of my coworkers is amazing at this–I’d like to get some tips from him, and I think Navigator can really help with this as well. More about this one later!
- Do projects. Our class is newly mixed ability and I think projects can give some great opportunities to differentiate, as well as be used for the whole class.
- Differentiation. What can we do besides having some students get further on a given activity/problem set/whatever?
- Write tests first. Backwards planning. We’re all on board with this one!
- Tell them less: discovery and investigation.
- Unifying themes/essential questions
- Circulate and be more aware of whats happening in class. I plan well but sometimes I’m guilty of watching the action instead of really knowing what’s happening in my room. I know I can catch more misconceptions and be more available to students–I just need to set up some structure for myself to make sure I’m doing this!
- Gather & use data more frequently–using the Navigator and other methods. And just circulating!
- I was asked to be on our Data Team this year and have been talking with the AP about it a bunch. I hope we can make it practical and useful for teachers! So far, we’ve come up with: make a sheet, keep up on data, self assess, make goals (have exemplars–collect, analyze, respond, plan/generate) (move beyond exit slips, ways to collect data). More on this one later too–I’m getting sick of editing my random thoughts 😛
- With my new/old room (it was mine before maternity leave) comes figuring everything out. In addition to wanting to start from zero on my files and binders, I need to decide what goes on shelves, in 7 cabinets, small and large file drawers. I have a lot of stuff! And at least two of those cabinets will be for NHS supplies.
- Determine how to organize student based supplies (whiteboards/dry erase/erasers, markers, scissors, rulers, glue sticks) (spares like pencils & erasers). And, honestly, what those are. I’ve used a set of three drawers for years, and students come get what they need, but a caddy per group could work (although I do lots of partner work–but isn’t sharing with another pair still more convenient?)
- How to handle student work/extra copies (will using Google classroom mean I need no extra copies? That would be amazing.)
- Where to put mental math, calculators and other stuff
- Decorate, posters, number lines! Sarah Hagan has tons of cute posters so I’m hoping I can copy her and be done with it since I’m not a huge decorator.
- Finish moving everything over–I had my homeroom get almost all of it in the last ten minutes of school (right after I found out) but my desk is still mostly full and although it looks nice I have no clue where anything is!
So obviously I have some narrowing down to do, but I think I’m just about there. Here’s hoping I can keep this up!