Twenty-five. That is a very important number. There are only twenty-five days left in the school year, give or take depending on your school calendar. In my world, that equals 200 hours. Just 200 hours. My mind races with my teacher checklist. How much have my students grown? What do they still need to learn? Have they had enough time to explore their own passions and enjoy wonderment? If you are like me, your head is reeling with a little anxiety. Maybe those twenty-five days just cannot go by fast enough. But before you start to panic or create a countdown paper chain, let’s take a moment to just be.
Focus on your student success stories.
Over the course of the year students have been reading, solving math problems, navigating technology, participating in design thinking projects, etc. They have explored new concepts, failed forward, understood information quickly, and have learned so much academically AND socially. When my students came into my room they were “big fourth graders” who were already so knowledgeable. There has also been so many goals accomplished this year. I am constantly blown away by their maturity, poise, and ability to practice empathy daily. I am also so proud of the great strides they have made in their writing, math, and speaking and listening skills. They are almost, not quite yet, but almost middle school ready.
What has been your favorite moment with your students individually or as a group?
Celebrate your professional growth and success.
Every single school year there are oodles of professional development opportunities. I love being able to choose strategies or ideas that will positively impact my classroom. Learning for teachers can happen by watching other teachers, participating in social media, reading educational books, and through district opportunities. Personally, I started blogging and participating in the edu-Twitter sphere - WOW! What I have gleaned from participating feels like more than a school-year’s worth of ideas and innovation. Not only do I get to personally learn and absorb so much awesomeness, but my students also get to experience new ideas implemented in the classroom.
What impact has your professional growth had on you and your classroom?
Preparing for the next school year.
Having one foot in this year and one in the next can sometimes make it hard to finish strong. Often teachers will start thinking about tweaking lesson plans, making lists of supplies, start searching for new ideas to make the school experience better and more exciting for next year’s lot. Improvement for the classroom and students is necessary. Maybe pick up a book. There are more than a few that may blow your mind. Try joining a Twitter chat; so fun, fast, and rewarding. There are a lot of opportunities at your fingertips, so start exploring.
What goals do you want to accomplish over the summer?
Keep going! You are almost to the finish line.
There is so much that has been accomplished this year. Way to go! Know in your heart-of-hearts that you are doing great things. BUT don’t forget that the next twenty-five days need just as much focus, energy, and passion as the other days in the school year. Do not be weary. Trust me, I am running this race too. Be invigorated at the sight of the finish line and finish strong. Finish strong for yourself and especially for your students.
Words have power. They have power to build up a person and the the power to tear them down. Think of the game Jenga. Each time a piece of the tower is removed the structure becomes weakened, only to eventually crumble. Words also have a similar effect on others. After a while, our internal structures start to crumble.
So be mindful. Make a point to think before you speak.
Speak truth, beauty, and kindness. Speak hope, joy, and encouragement. Speak life.
Bam! It hits you all of the sudden… an idea! Should you keep it to yourself or share? What good does it do us as educators to keep ideas, inspiration, and even struggles to ourselves. By having an open culture of collaboration, our ideas can be validated, challenged, and even become an inspiration for someone else to take the idea and run with it for the greater good, right?
I (Mena) have had the pleasure of being a classroom teacher for nine years. During that time I have been in many schools where collaboration is expected but it is limited to the grade level and sometimes the whole school. The things I have learned during those time are great, but often limited. Since I have joined Twitter, #IMMOOC, #tlap, and #satchatwc chats, I have learned SO much. The culture of sharing amazing! Just the fact that two educators from different countries can collaborate because of technology is like nothing I have ever done before.
The open ideas of collaboration is for sure a great one. The world is now flat and gives us the chance to chat with other educators from around the world for the greater good of education around the world. I do believe that while sharing, our impact and knowledge accelerates up to a point that you cannot even imagine.
I (Francois) have had the pleasure of being a classroom teacher for more than nine years along with 4 years on the international level and 4 years as an public school administrator. During that time, collaboration has changed greatly. At the beginning of my career, everyone stayed into their own classroom, even pro-d was not something in which people had a lot of interest in. Mid-way to my career things have change to the new paradigm of thinking. I went as far as China and New-York to stay in touch with innovative ideas in education. I have learned lots with coursera, twitter and facebook in which I have created more than 20 pages of collaboration. I have more than 300 followers in Australia on a site that I have created just to share some ideas on 21st century learning. I created a Pinterest site in which I should reach my 1K pretty soon, I put teaching ideas and share mine with the world. I am greatly interested in Open collaboration around the world. I am a lifelong learner and I have great interest in the field of education.
What an amazing opportunity we have as educators to share, learn, and grow in a professional learning network with amazing educators and students from around the world. Open culture and collaboration can mean chatting with a teacher in another grade level. It can mean sharing ideas at a school meeting. Open culture means that your ideas are good enough and essential to community and global growth of students and teachers. Without collaboration and sharing we make a smaller impact, but once we share, our impact is bigger, stronger, and better!
I adore the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The protagonist is such a gentle dreamer who the audience roots for, all the while hoping he will get enough confidence to follow his dreams. Throughout the film, Walter has these fantasies play out that are rudely interrupted by reality. Finally he has to make a decision to change his mindset and go on his adventure.
I feel using#BookSnaps helps illustrate what I have gained from reading The Innovator’s Mindset and learned throughout this whole #IMMOOC experience as an educator. I have learned a lot, enjoyed the process, and have truly begun my transformation.
Thank goodness, Walter gets up and goes on his journey. He finds his “mojo” and becomes the new and improved version of himself. Walter realizes that he has been the leader, hero all along, but he had to have something push him outside of his comfort zone so that he could find his passion and voice. That is exactly what this whole #IMMOOC experience has done for me.
Mena T. Hill
Educator, Wife, Mother, Colorado Native