Thank goodness that so many people I follow on twitter are at a fabulous conference this week. It has given me the motivation I need to emerge from my summer hiding and begin getting ready to go back to school which starts in just 3 short weeks. It has been a fabulous summer filled with some much needed time to focus on my own two kids and take a break from the daily pressures that come with the regular school year. However, it is time for me to get out of summer mode and start attacking all those “I’m going to be a better teacher next year” projects that I have been putting off.
I have accepted some new challenges for the coming school year that I am equally nervous and excited about. I agreed to teach two collaborative Pre-Algebra classes. It is a new idea we are trying where the kids 6th grade special education collab teacher is going to loop with the kids. This means a few different things for me:
1) I will get to work with absolutely hands down the best special education teacher I have ever known. I have never had the pleasure of teaching with him but I am so excited for the opportunity we will have to really push some kids that are struggling learners. One of the goals I have is to prove that Steve Leinwand is absolutely correct when he says that we have an instructional gap not an achievement gap. This group of kids got off to a fabulous start in 6th grade with a phenomenal teacher and their special education teacher. Now if I can take that progress and build I am hopeful we will see a real difference in their so called achievement gap.
2) I am going to have to get more innovative than ever before. In addition to the students I will teach that are identified as having an IEP I will also teach a very large population of English language learners. I feel like every student that comes in my room deserves the best I have and I worry that it will be hard to meet all of their needs daily but I am also excited that I have the opportunity to meet their learning needs. Although some teachers dread teaching such classes and look “down” on it, I consider it an honor that my administration feels that I can really help these kids. I just hope I can live up to the expectations.
New Leadership Roles
I am also equally excited and nervous about some new leadership roles I will be taking on. I agreed to serve as Math Department Chair for the coming school year which I am hopeful will be a great way to not only serve my school as a leader but will be a chance to improve instructional opportunities for all learners. This role will be a challenge for me though. I am not always thick skinned enough and know that there are going to be times that my colleagues may not agree with or like the direction we are going. I am planning on doing a department book study of the NCTM book Principles to Actions that I know will open up some unpleasant discussions for some but I really hope that I have the ability to start an open dialogue about some of the productive and unproductive practices discussed in the book.
With the implementation of the new Kentucky TPGES evaluation system I will also be serving as a Peer Observer in our building as well. I am really looking forward to that role for selfish reasons. I love getting in classrooms and learning from other teachers so I am incredibly excited to spend time in a variety of teacher’s rooms in order to help them grow while I learn from them at the same time.
I have no doubt that the next year will be a mixture of both success and failure as I continue to push myself professionally. I already have lots of things I am planning on sharing so I hope you will follow along, provide feedback, commentary, thoughts to ponder, or just support as I begin another year’s journey with 120 fabulous 7th graders!