Monday, December 29, 2014

Part 2 More Chuckles 'n Chortles- Looking Forward to 2015

Photo Credit: casting lights via Compfight cc

Personal/Professional Growth:  The Ferris Wheel is an amusement park ride that I love and hate at the same time.  I love the view from the top and I don't mind the climb to get there. But the tickling sensation in my stomach of coming back down is almost more than I can stand sometimes.  Of course, I laugh and enjoy myself as the cycle repeats over and over again. And so it is with my personal and professional development and growth.

What Am I Looking Forward To For The Last Half of the Year?

Pushing to the Edge: I'm required to fill out a report card with letter grades, to teach a "recommended" number of minutes of this subject or that subject, to "cover the curriculum" and to assess and report testing data. But, there's a little rebel within my spirit.  The rebel's voice is getting louder, more confident, and desirous for change. There is a little fear- the tickle in the stomach- but there's also the side of me that takes risks, enjoys challenges, and cares more about student learning than "this is what we've always done".

I can play the "game" and jump through the hoops, but I'll do it my way.  Could I get in trouble? lose my job? There is that potential. But I'm ready to defend the things that I'm trying (makerspace, throwing out the emphasis on grades, gamification, flipping, etc.)

Next year, it's my turn for a formal evaluation.  It seems to me that much of what I'm supposed to do relies on my ability to run a very traditional classroom.  I don't know how all of the new practices that I'm implementing will "score". It's a potential barrier, but it won't stop me.  I'm confident in my ability as a teacher.

For this year, I'm required (because of new accountability standards) to show evidence that I'm an "Effective" or "Highly Effective" teacher.  I'm okay with that.  Truthfully, it's busy work to me.  My time could be spent on more beneficial tasks.  But, I'll play the game.  I'll use the evidence as a way to reflect on my practices.  I'm not convinced; however, that the suggested types of "evidence" will give a full picture of what I'm trying to accomplish in my classroom. [Side note to myself- Stir things up a bit and make multi-media presentations.]

If an administrator came into my classroom, they'd see engagement and hear the busy "hum" of collaboration.  That's IF an administrator came to my class.  Instead, I think that I'll be evaluated on two 30-40 minutes of observation--observations that will expect me to be in front of rows of kids "spewing forth my great knowledge". Blah! Oh, how much more an administrator could learn if they spent some time in my classroom!  [Side note to myself- IF I ever become an administrator, spending time in the classrooms will be at the top of my priority list!]

At this point in my career, the formal evaluations mean very little to me other than my own pride.  I'm like everyone else and want my scores to be the highest. It's that straight A mentality so ingrained in me.  Sure, there will probably be a tickle of nervousness knowing that I'm being evaluated, that a percentage of my salary will be based upon my score, that the administrator will most certainly NOT see a traditional classroom, and that there is a HIGH probability that I may have to adjust during a lesson to Plan B, C, and D as I try to integrate tech into our daily learning. But, I'll be prepared--prepared for the day and not a pony show.  Evaluations of performance are necessary and have their place.  I don't believe in putting on shows for administrators.  What they see, is what they get. Merit pay is not a motivator!

I learned a long time of go to try and stay true to myself.  It hasn't been easy! As a new teacher, I was criticized for dressing up, decorating my room in themes, singing/chanting to learn, making up simulations, and a host of other FUN activities in my classroom.  Ironic that I should find a whole CREW of like-minded educators at the END of my career! For the next half of this year, I'm really looking forward to building relationships with my fellow PIRATES!  They inspire me every day to give my best to my students.

During this last half of the year, I will be experimenting a lot!  My kids are affectionately called my guinea pigs.  We are learning together!  I'm really trying to give them a voice about their education and to listen. We are making educational decisions together and we're just getting started.  I'm not sure how it will look by the end of the year.  Learning can be messy!  We DO know that we want more class time for reading, learning about our passions, choosing how we learn, and more time for science and Making.

How will I balance their wants/needs with the pressure I have to follow the directives from my district to stay "on schedule" and to report the testing data? I don't know.  That is the million dollar question that I'm trying to sort out in my head.  What I do know for sure is that I have a whole support group behind me- my PLN.

I'm truly looking forward to more learning from members of my PLN! My Edmodo family will always be my heroes and best friends, but I've met MANY wonderful educators.  I have some mentors for learning and integrating technology, mentors who are administrators, and mentors for all of my other interests.  I'm learning from the BEST!

I guess that without listing all of the specifics of what I want to accomplish on a personal/professional level, that I'm most looking forward to the challenge of making this the best year of learning and growth for my students!  I know that the path that I'm on will get me there. It's a little scary not knowing all of the "hows" right now. I have SO much to learn!  I KNOW that I will make a lot of mistakes!  I "fail" and fail miserably all of the time.  At least it keeps me laughing!  And...I might add, keeps others laughing as well.  But I'm excited for this journey!

It's still frightening for me to go from a such a private person to public.  I'm nowhere near my comfort zone!  I can't believe that I'm writing and publishing online.  It helps to know that this blog is selfishly for me and my growth.  I know that only a couple of people will read this, but even that is a huge change for me.  I can see and feel myself changing.  To do so in the public eye, making myself vulnerable to critics, knowing how I'm NOT an expert at anything is pushing me--pushing me to the edge.

My expectations for myself are high.  I have many goals.  It will not be easy to balance my own schooling, teaching, family, and life.  I'm taking on the challenge--to be the change that I want to see.  That's what the next half of the year will be about in my classroom.  Get ready to LAUGH a lot!

What are you most looking forward to in 2015?  I'd love to know your thoughts!

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