As the year comes to a close, what observations can I make about 2015-2016?
* It was a creative one. I used several strategies I discovered in a book entitled Teach Like a Pirate. My Literature 9 class had a dinner party investigating the information found in the short story "The Sniper". The government class had several round table discussions on current events, developed vs. underdeveloped countries, and budgetary decisions. English 10 used StoryCorps to record some valuable conversations with the important people in their lives. And Law...well we solved a crime - actually it was an accident that looked like a crime.
* This year was an exhaustive one. During the month of January I believe I was at school until 2:00 AM several nights. That's not even counting the numerous late nights in February. The Drama Department produced The Music Man, we had over 19 groups out for Large Group, we won a state title with Television News, we hosted a District Speech Contest, we had two qualify for individual events. And that's just the extra-curriculars. I think I need a nap!
* 2015-2016 was an informative year. Each classroom made huge strides in learning to become life-long learners. I focused on vocabulary development, reading strategies, and some higher order thinking with some questioning strategies. It was my goal this year to increase the rigor and relevancy, and looking back, I feel that we did.
So looking forward to next year, what does 2016-2017 look like? Yes, most teachers are already looking ahead to next year. We spend our summers scouring through blogs, reading professional development books, searching through Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers. No we're no martyrs - we do take time out to be with our families, go on those much needed vacations (where we look for things we can use in our classrooms), and sit on our patios soaking up the sun we'll never see after September. However, a good teacher is always on the prowl for another classroom idea, another unit of study, something that can make our classroom "POP"!
Next year I will be a model teacher. I asked the administration, what does that mean? They simply turned it around and said, "What does that mean to you?" (By the way, I hate it when people do that to me. I do it to others, but I hate it when it's done to me!) What does it mean to me?
First I think it means that my classroom has now become a laboratory. I hated science, but now my classroom will be the place where I will experiment with various strategies. And I'm excited! I've always liked to try new things, and now I have the thumbs up to experiment, and if it works, share it. I hope to "visually showcase teaching strategies, tools, and decisions." (New York City Department of Education definition of a model teacher). That excites me.
I also see my position next year as one who will learn from you, my colleagues. You all do such amazing things in your classroom, and I want to bring that back to my courses. I know that as a model teacher, I'm not expected to travel to other classrooms, but I hope we can set up a dialogue where we're sharing ideas, resources, and even co-teach.
I hope everyone will feel welcome to come to my classroom and observe. Sometimes there will be an invitation sent out formally, but the doors always open. Just pop in, sit a spell (I'm sounding like the Clampet's), and together we can "make a dent in the universe".