This is the time of year that I’m deeply reflective; there is an intense mulling that occurs while looking back at the year, and embued with hope for what is to come. For some reason, since I was a young girl, I’ve functioned with an August to June calendar, with July & August being a nowhere-land in between.
I’ve tried to be pensive in the deep, dark days of late December, to no avail. It’s not me. Instead, now is the end of my year. This is when I think about who I’m becoming, what matters to me, and changes I’d like, or need, to make.
I realize that over the past 10 months I’ve become a completely different person than who I was a year ago. This revelation became clear when I decided to update my resume a few weeks ago, and had a hard time capturing who I was in a word document, when so much of who I am, as an educator, is digital and on the web. The most pronounced change that has occurred is that instead of focusing on content, my teaching now uses content to foster and develop life-long learning skills in my students.
A year ago, I wasn’t on Twitter. Now my PLN is invaluable. If every other form of PD was taken away from me, I would continue to grow and learn because of the people and resources at my finger tips on Twitter.
A year ago, I didn’t really blog. Now it’s part of who I am. It’s how I actively try to make sense of the world. And it has connected me to people who challenge my thinking and help me to be a better teacher.
This is what my classroom has looked like for a number of years, and until this year, I didn’t understand the limitations it poses. It works well for students to sit and face the front of the classroom, but there’s little room for activities and projects, and it doesn’t facilitate conversations or collaboration.
This is what my classroom will look like next year. With this configuration, I can sit as many students, actually more, than before, but with fewer tables. However, this formation is actually conducive to discussion and collaboration. In the middle of the room will be a rug where we have “circle time” (a term my students came up with & love).
I’m hoping to paint the table tops with idea paint, creating a whiteboard surface for my students to write out chemical equations or brainstorm ideas. We can then take a photo of it and upload it to our wiki. No more paper.
In the fall, we will still continue to try to change the world. My grade 11′s and I are going to be learning about human trafficking. Normally, I would’ve spent the summer researching and compiling all of my notes, so that I could be the “expert”. Not this year. Instead, I’ll be learning alongside them and from them.
I have to admit that I am greatly anticipating the fall and the adventure it will bring. This is the first year I can actually say that. Most years, I’ve been exhausted, cranky, and have barely managed to drag myself over the finish-line at the end of June. But not this year.
I think 21st century education has the power to change the lives of my students, as well as my own, if I just have the courage to let it.