This school year, I received a new position with my current school district as a Blended Learning Specialist. In this role, I serve PK-12th grade students, teachers, and campus leaders by assisting them with all things digital teaching and learning. I am passionate about the success and professional growth of teachers along with empowering them to make decisions to impact the engagement and achievement of their students. Now that the year has ended, I am spending time reflecting over my first year on the job. While I feel as if there were some successes, there were a few areas I want to improve. I am hopeful that this time next year, I will be able to say many of these things have improved. There are a few areas I want to revisit in order to better serve the students and educators of my district. However, for this post, I have limited to my big three, or the three areas I feel are most important for me to focus on next year.
1. Focus on the Learning Not the Tool
I will forever be a teacher. I understand the many "things" that come along with teaching. At the end of the day, I believe the people in classrooms have the hardest jobs in the school system. My job is to partner with them to make their jobs easier. There are so many edtech tools introduced to teachers over the course of the year. At the end of the year, I feel as if I had a few teachers who were still unsure of which tools would be most effective at different points of their classroom instruction. While I feel I did a great job of sharing both collaborative and formative assessment tools for teachers, for the next school year, want to ensure teachers are better equipped with tools they can use from bell to bell to engage learners and truly provide authentic blended learning experiences for students. Communicating the effectiveness of tools and being a better resource during planning and instruction (modeling, co-teaching, and observations) will help teachers choose the best learning.
2. Create More, Standardize Less
It goes without saying that standardized testing weighs heavily on the minds of all educators. We can't escape it. At the end of the year, students (and teachers) are assessed on the learning that has occurred. I have my own feelings and thoughts on this, and I might share them in a later post. However, I am not unaware of the need to teach standards. Teaching should be fun, engaging, and creative for teachers and students. Each day, teachers and students should look forward to being at school. I want to help bring more of this into the classroom. Last year I began building a mobile makerspace to assist teachers with giving students more opportunities to create and have original authentic demonstration of their learning. My goal is to give students and teachers the opportunity to have as much fun as possible as they learn. I want to help bring creativity and imagination back to the classroom. Next year, my goal is to publicize the mobile makerspace more and give teachers an opportunity to experience making as well. Then, we will be able to partner to marry classroom learning standards to creativity, exploration, and imagination, all of the things that make learning fun. I love to create!
3. Run with Those Who Are Ready
This year will be my sixteenth year in education, and each year starts similarly for me. After spending the summer planning, reflecting, and learning, I am eager to return to my campus in order to share with others. However, there is nothing like eagerly approaching other educators about all of the amazing things going on in education and have them quickly let you know they are not interested. Talk about the wind being knocked right out of your sails! It truly stings, as I am passionate about equipping teachers to have everything they need in order to best meet the needs of students. I am not naive and understand the demands of being a teacher in a classroom with students daily. I also understand the need to diversify professional learning for the teachers I support. There are some teachers who are truly ready to soar with blended instruction in their classrooms. This year, I want to have a plan in place for teachers who are ready to "run with it", whatever IT is. Oftentimes, as educators, we plan for the middle of the road and those who will not get it. I will be intentional in standing ready to run with those who are ready to run and soar.