Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Goals for the Year

Ok so I have a new job at a new school (Kent Innovation High) at a new level (high school) teaching a new subject (world history) in a new style (PBL) while part of a team implementing new assessment methods (standards based assessment) as part of the New Tech Network. I am basically creating all of my curriculum from scratch (which I love!) without a textbook.

With so many changes I have been thinking about all of this and what I want to focus on in my first year at this school. Here are my goals:

  1. Love students-I want to get to know my students as individuals: their strengths, weaknesses, and passions. My curriculum is never as important as they are.
  2. Help students love each other-I want my room to be a place where students are safe and encourage each other. True collaboration will be when students support each other.
  3. Love of learning-I want students to enjoy learning for the sake of learning.
  4. Serving-I want my students to care about the world and want to make a difference in it NOW.
If I can accomplish these four things I will know I have had a GREAT year!

What are your goals for the 2011-12 school year?


  1. I did a PBL global course last year. Most of it is up on my blog. Feel free to steal and adapt:

  2. These are wonderful goals!
    Let's see... I teach seventh grade English (Lit/LA), so I want to:
    1. Help my students trust their own ideas
    2. Encourage a love of reading and their ownership of the choice of what they read
    3. Make my classroom a place where everyone's ideas are valued.
    4. Find ways to make the work joyful, full of tinkering and experimentation, creativity and sharing

  3. Thanks Stephen I will definitely check it out.

    Thanks Kate for sharing yours! I like all four of yours but am particularly partial to "tinkering." I hope you have a great year.

  4. Here goes mine, I'm not in a classroom with students any more, so mine are around teachers
    1. Inspire teachers to make connections with each other.
    2. Encourage teachers to take risks while supporting each other.
    3. Connect teachers to resources and information that will help them reach their goals.
    4. Listen more

  5. Thanks Theresa,

    I like the risk taking. How can we expect students to push themselves and grow if we do not take risks ourselves?

    Listening is important too. It shows we value others. As I read these goals from others I want to make them all my goals too.

  6. I would worry about someone teaching history for the first time without a textbook. It takes a lot of thinking and research to produce a balanced view of history, and few teachers have the time or skills to do it. Relying on randomly gathered sources sounds like a recipe for a super-biased view of history with major holes.

    In a project-based learning approach students may learn something useful about the methods of historians (if the teacher has actually studied how historians work and has done history research himself or herself), but it could easily become pseudoteaching, where the students have fun but don't really learn anything.

    Disclaimer: I'm not opposed to teacher-created materials nor to project-based learning in history. The best history teacher my son has had created her own collection of mostly primary sources and had the students do various projects (like researching and setting up a Civil War encampment in 5th grade, and a Constitutional Convention in 7th grade). What made the difference was that she was a professional historian (with a couple of published books) who really knew what historical research was about and could direct the kids to primary sources and help them interpret them. She also taught them how to write research papers (something the English teachers never really cover). Her standards were very high (the 5th graders were getting questions that would have been challenging for an AP history course), but the results were phenomenal.

    I don't think that her approach would have been successful if done by a less knowledgeable and enthusiastic teacher.

  7. @gasstationwithoutpumps

    I totally disagree with your comment. First of all, I did not say this in the post but I taught social studies my first year of teaching in an alternative high school. There I had five preps with no set textbooks either. I had to copy out of a few old ones or use reproductibles. I wasted a lot of paper that year ;) Of course this will be much easier in a 1:1 laptop school with so many resources on-line. You do realize that the library of congress is on-line among thousands of other primary sources?

    I am not a published, "professional historian." I am guessing few teachers are, but I am a history major and I am a "professional teacher" who knows how to research. I also find the "enthusiastic" part insulting. Of course you don't really know me or have any idea of how prepared or not I am for this job.

    What offends me most about your comment is that you think that textbooks are the solution for "new" teachers and you imply that they will present history as balanced and unbiased. This could not be further from the truth. Textbooks are very biased and usually omit many sides of history including women, Native Americans, minorities in general, and common people. Textbooks are full of bias and holes.

    Most importantly I believe that learning needs to be put into the hands of students. I am an expert at research and finding sources as a teacher should be. I do not need to know everything about history (no one actually does anyway). When the teacher presents themselves as all knowing, it discourages students from seeking out more information. When a teacher stands beside a student and challenges assumptions and asks questions it points a student to seek further on their own and actually invest in the curriculum.

    So I am confident that we will have a great year of learning together. I will teach my students how to empower their own learning and I trust them to pursue it. Stale, biased textbooks are a crutch for the lazy or unqualified in my opinion. I will let my students seek out many sources in many ways to make sense of our world.