My Mantra for the New School Year

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Simple words can often be powerful.  What’s your mantra for the upcoming school year?

 

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Goals for the 2018-2019 School Year

As the summer starts to wind down, I wanted to think about what my goals for the next school year would be (both professional and personal).

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I’m not sure how your school does goals (you know, the ones that partially decide whether or not you get to stay next year) but mine requires that we set up two SLO goals (Student Learning Objective) and one PGP Goal (Personal Growth Plan). In the past for my personal goal I have done creating a daily spiral review, maintaining a daily classroom website post for each class, among other things. I have typically done my goals with my Algebra 1 Support class, because I spend two hours with them every day and I find I need to be much more intentional with them than my other classes.

This year, I plan to focus my student learning objective goals on areas of Algebra 1 that I believe to be foundational to success later on in high school math.  In the past, I’ve done factoring, solving quadratics, and getting students to pass a worksample (they need two to graduate so having one their freshmen year is BIG!).

I haven’t quite decided what those areas should be.  We’re not allowed to repeat goals, so I need to pick two new areas to really focus on.  Here’s some ideas I’m toying around with (please give me feedback in the comments):

  • Solving equations for a given variable
  • Domain and range
  • Systems
  • Translating verbal to algebraic expressions
  • Simplifying exponents
  • Transformations of quadratic graphs

As far as my personal goal, I think I want to challenge myself to make one quality activity per unit of Algebra 1.  I recognize that it’s difficult to make every single unit AMAZING, especially when you’re still newer to teaching, so I want to work on slowly creating more and more quality activities to use that way I have a great bank of resources that keep growing each year.

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Now, as far as personal goals for me, not the school, I want to work on taking less work home. I hope this isn’t too controversial of a statement, but I really need to work on keeping school at school.  I feel like the last few years I’ve allowed schoolwork and student needs to take over every minute of my life, and I don’t feel like that’s the healthiest approach to having a sustainable teaching career.  All of my teaching career, I have PRIDED myself on responding to all student emails in 10 minutes or less–I’ve even responded to students at 3am on multiple occasions because I was suffering from sleeping issues (I’ve realized  that it was hard for me to wind down and go to sleep when I was consistently staying up late and working on school-related things and it affected my sleep).  Halfway during last year I switched it to, “if you email before 9pm, then I’ll get back in 10 minutes or less.  If not, I’ll get back in the morning,” but that still wasn’t good for me.  I felt like I was always on edge and checking my phone to make sure I didn’t miss a student email, and if I did I had to immediately drop what I was doing to respond (I’m a slow writer and I take a long time to think out my responses so if I wanted to get back ASAP I had to respond immediately).

The reason that I started all of this is because I like to instill a “no excuses” mentality in my students.  There’s always something they can do to get help.  There’s no reason to come to school empty-handed.  If you’re truly stuck, email me and I’ll get back to you immediately.  Unfortunately, though, that wasn’t my only problem.  Not only have I made myself overly available for students, I take too much work home.

I’ve always worked best at home.  All through college, I went to the library once…and that was to meet a friend.  I’m not someone who’ll plop down at Starbucks and work away.  This is all to say, I don’t really like doing school work at work.  My favorite way to work is sitting on my couch, or on the floor behind my couch with my papers spread in a semi-circle around me (we have an L-shaped couch that is in the middle of the livingroom).  I’ve been very partial to the spread-out-on-my- floor-behind-the-couch approach to doing my school work, but I find that I let my school work keep bleeding into my personal time.  There’s only so many hours in the day.  The amount that I have worked on school in the past has meant there was no time left for cooking, there was no time left to clean my house, and there was no time to go to the gym (hello extra 40 pounds from when I first started teaching).

Things I want to do differently for next year:

  • Instead of coming home earlier and then working on school work for hours on end, I plan to stay until 4pm every day (1hr and 15 minutes after students leave).  Even if I don’t have things that need done for the next day or that week, I will use that time to plan ahead.  The time at school is the time I’m working at school. I have enough resources already that what I can do in that time will be good enough.  Side note: The concept of “good enough” is really hard for my perfectionist self to square with.  “If it’s not perfect, then what’s the point of even doing it?” is a common thought process I have to frequently push back down.
  • I will pick a time every evening to respond to all emails (say 7pm?).  If students miss emailing by that time then I’ll get back in the morning.  We’ll see how this goes (I can feel my insides churning over the idea of not getting back right away).
  • On Sundays I can spend up to 2 hours working on school stuff, but no more. Anything else can wait.