What is your start of year game plan?
Three steps every teacher must take this year!
Professional Development Playbook: what do you want to do for your career this season?
Proactively organize your own professional development this year. As a teacher, evaluate what you want to learn and investigate where to learn it. School leaders may consider building or district needs as they develop teachers. Do not wait for an instructional coach or anyone else to decide where you need professional development this year. They might think about filling job positions instead of helping you to maximize your potential. Do not sit back while someone selects how, or if, you will contribute!
Demonstrate your initiative and start with your end in mind, work backwards to find your first steps this fall. Identify if you need formal learning, such as college courses, or could you try the myriad of high quality informal learning available in the form of Massive Online Open Courses or MOOCs (Coursera, Canvas Network, EdX). Could you commit to a weekly twitter chat as a contributor? Are you interested in blogging as reflective journal on your practice? Pick one way to grow and challenge yourself this year.
Document your accomplishments through the newly available option of badges. Think digitized scouting badges, but for things you know or do as a professional. If you start on a course or other credentialing which offers badges a Mozilla Backpack is great way to gather badges from various badge issuers. Badges can be shared via social networks like LinkedIn. This is the new facet to your portfolio that will illustrate your work ethic and paint you as a forward thinker when you bring it up to your supervisor or potential employer.
Blended Learning Strategy: whether you are flipping your classroom or just looking to add an asynchronous element start the year with two tools for the job.
Why two? Have two tools because you do not need make adjustments to learn a new tool at the half. If it is free, it may go away. If one tool is not as effective you may need to go to the bench. If you are Varsity material you may even attempt to allow your students to select how they interact with your content between tools. Once you establish an awesome record of usage of any tool(s) feel free to ask an administrator to make an investment and purchase an upgraded tool.
Check tools inside and outside the school network with both student and teacher logins before committing yourself to these and know the best practices for using each one. Find out if the company has a YouTube channel or other documentation, twitter account and how responsive are they to customer feedback? Consider student usage and access, test the lead-time needed for you to produce quality content in advance of the students, and can your content be upgraded to a purchased version later?
Identify a power-user of your chosen tool(s) before the start of the school year. At a time of crisis you will be comforted to know that help is only a call, email, or tweet away. If you cannot find someone using the tool you might consider switching to a tool with a larger user base until you are confident on your own.
Team Building Exercise: pick who you want on your team.
You are not responsible for the entire building, but pick three or more people who challenge you and whom you can also help and motivate. It is natural to include those who teach the same grade level or content as you do. However, think vertically and across content in order to tap into positive trends for you and your students.
Sharpen yourself against your selected few through deep, meaningful discussions. What do you all want to investigate thoroughly, how can you all share your strengths and wisdom with each other? Do not exclude those who challenge you and make you answer the “why” behind your assumptions about learning.
Consider utilizing technology to extend your team, or access to your team, with Twitter or Google+/Hangouts beyond typical physical constraints. Even if there is only one person like you at your school you do not have to be alone, you can find kindred spirits online via Twitter or Google+. Technology widens the pool of potential teammates and can potentially yield your dream team for professional growth.Teachers, huddle up. This is the season to take hold of our own profession, you are in charge of what you put into and get out of this school year. There are three clear things you can do to develop your own game this year. Who is with me? “New School Year” on three: one-two-three!