Posts Tagged educator

Reflecting on My Goals and This School Year

At the beginning of my 4th year of teaching online, I posted the 3 Goals that were most important for me to accomplish this (last) school year. The goals were based on me improving from the prior year, but ended up being very shortsighted. Let’s put it this way, I fell short on the 3 goals but ended up being successful in other areas that I hadn’t thought of when I made these. So, I sort of reached my objectives, in a wishy washy kind of way.

First, I wanted to be more persistent. I meant that I needed to try and call or visit my kids on campus more. At an online school this is difficult, but I did a really good job of this the first semester logging over 300 phone calls in 18 weeks, but came up nearly empty in the second semester. The main reason why is because I decided to build 2 new courses for next school year. That took all my free work time.

When I think about persistence as a goal for next year, I want it to mean more than communication with students. I want it to be about persisting change and progress amongst students, peers, and authority.

My second goal was to be more resourceful, to learn more and teach students more creatively. I learned more than I ever have in my life this school year; it did not improve my failure rate though. I did get kids being more creative. I did get kids to try things they had never done before. I did get kids to take risks. I just failed at getting more kids to do that. Next year that has to be the focus.

My third goal was to be more positive. More positive about my views of administration. More positive about my views of our staff, and especially more positive in my belief that our students could succeed at an online school. I did great with the kids, never gave up for a second this year. Our staff I’m still very skeptical of, and they are continually allowed to fail these kids. That’s on admin, and until that changes or the culture of our school changes, admin is accountable.

I haven’t thought about my goals for next year, but I obviously have to continue working on a couple of these.

As with every school year, if you aren’t reflecting and trying to better yourself for your students, then you are doing them a disservice.

I think the ADDIE Instructional Design model can be applied to “performance design” as well. I will Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate my educational performance constantly. I will continue to make changes. I will improve. And hopefully, just hopefully, my kids will be the evidence of that.

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Breaking Down Personal Barriers

Forbidding Wall

When I was in High School I was petrified of public speaking. It got even worse when I went to college and didn’t know anyone in the room. In fact, early on in my college career I would drop courses if I found out there was a speech involved. I hated that about myself, but hated the idea of speaking even more. Then I became a teacher.

Knocking Down that First Big Wall:
When I began college at 21, after 3 years of floating around through life, I knew I wanted to work with kids. I wasn’t interested in teaching at that point because I didn’t think there was anyway I could get up in front of a class everyday and just….talk. But after a few years of college, something changed. I had to take a speech class to move to a 4 year school, there was no way to avoid it anymore. Even though I dreaded every one of those 3-5 minute monologues ( I would shake, my stomach would get upset, and I felt flushed with heat), I started getting a little confidence in myself. The final assessment of the semester was presenting a Persuasive Speech I wrote about working with kids in the community (I still didn’t think I could teach at this point). My speech got nominated by our class and I ended up in a school-wide competition. I didn’t win but made it to the finals and the observers were about 50 students, a dean from Stanford, one from Cal Poly, and the head of my school. In about 6 months I had gone from being deliriously nervous just to talk in front of 30 kids in a community college classroom, to the finals of a speech competition in front of some very intimidating people.

Going for It:
Once I got through that course, I knew I could become a teacher. But the fears didn’t stop once I did. I still get nervous in front of my peers and large groups and there are still personal barriers that I keep trying to knock down. The main difference now is that I set goals to break down those walls. I push myself to handle uncomfortable situations. Just last week I presented at my first NACOL Webinar, which was really strange and awkward. I wasn’t happy with how I presented my ideas in that hour, but I know that next time will be better because I got through it.

How This Applies to my Kids:
I want to push my kids to do things that unnerve them. I want to teach students to play outside of their safe zones. I want to help them get through their fears at a much younger age than I did. I talk to kids about this in very limited situations right now, but as I’m growing as a teacher I’m learning that this plays more and more of a role in students lack of success. I think I’m finally beginning to understand the role of fear in a teenagers mind, and hopefully I can help them break down some of the barriers that fear creates.

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