As we always tell our students, reflecting on what you have done is just as important as doing what you did. The ability to decompress and evaluate the actions of the past allow us to see our faults and celebrate our successes. This short post is just a little insight into my 2017. While it is possible to detail in obtuse specificity the peaks and valleys, my goal will be to isolate one of each, a great achievement and an opportunity for improvement...
Celebrate Good Times!
One attribute on which I pride myself is a relentless pursuit of being better. To me this growth oriented mindset is necessary, but to others it is overwhelming. At the heart of this pursuit is the feeling that engaging students and empowering them to use their abilities for a productive future is the responsibility of the adult in the room, whether this is a teacher or just an influential individual.
This year I have devoted my classroom and non-instructional time to investigating a variety of strategies to look beyond the traditioanal learning experiences. I am especially proud of utilizing a project based environment in my middle school science course as a means for assessing student knowledge instead of tests. In addition, I allowed students the latitude to select the form in which they thought they could best articulated what they learned. These projects consistently surpassed my expectations and I believe that this is due to the autonomy given to the students.
Outside of class I was presented with an opportunity to explore the world of Virtual Reality. This emerging field is ripe for educational implementation and I have felt very empowered and supported by my school to pursue this new environment. Not only having access to a robust equipment setup, I am taking courses in VR Development to hone my skills for the production of educational content. Since VR is not a piece of any educational curriculum, it is nice to be on the cutting edge of a new technology.
Opportunity for Improvement!
The other side of this growth oriented approach is the need to continue to see where improvement can be made. This year I have been more adventurous in my middle school courses, but have neglected the same attention to pedagogy in my high school courses. My desire to give autonomy to students is appropriate, and possibly more important, in the high school environment when so many students just focus on grades and GPA. The notion of learning as the focus, instead of scores, nurtures students to think of learning as something that is not limited to classes and school. Having piloted the idea in classes where I have more room for experimentation, it is time I apply these elements to all my classes.
In 2018 I have a few goals, or some may say performance expectations for myself. For the purposes of focus, I will try to frame these as those that are measurable and objective in their ability to be completed. One will be strictly for instruction and the other for exploration.
Throughout the year I will revisit these goals and provide updates on the progress of each. I am also hoping that these spur additional ideas that can be shared in future blog posts. Thank you for reading my post, and I hope that you will continue to follow my journey for creating innovative and effective learning experiences in 2018!