Tuesday, January 9, 2018

#MTBoS12Days: What are you looking forward to in 2018?

This winter break @druinok organized a blog challenge.  I think it was meant to be completed during winter break, but I'll likely be finishing long after that.  That said, I do love good prompts, so I'll stick with it.  You can find more info here if you'd like to join in the fun.

So, what am I looking forward to most in 2018? 

Well, I love the start of a new school year.  One of the great things about teaching is that it is filled with new beginnings.  You can try a new grading system, you can try a new warm-up routine, you can try a new tech tool.  Sure, you can do some of these things in the middle of the school year, but many of the routines are best changed at the start of a year.  This year, I'm switching schools in the middle of the year.  Sometimes when I think about it, I get super overwhelmed.  I can hardly wrap my mind around the idea that I'll be teaching a lesson at my current school one day.  Then I'll need to pack up my room overnight and move into  new classroom across town to teach a lesson there the next day.  On top of that, I have never taught the courses that I am picking up before (statistics and business/consumer math) and I've never taught on a block schedule.  I wonder when I will learn things like how to take attendance on a new LMS.  How will I find out about school rules, policies, and traditions?  How will I know what the sub covered during the first few weeks of the semester before I arrive.  Of course, these things will eventually work themselves out, so I remind myself to focus on all the good that comes along with a fresh start.  Here are two things that I'm considering trying in my new classroom:

First, I would like to focus on building a strong classroom community.  This has been a goal of mine for the last few years, but I've never found the magic bullet.  Most of my students remain unaware of how their actions affect other people.  I'd love to foster a culture where every student is not only responsible for their own learning but where they also care about the learning of their classmates.  I've bought a ton of Kagan books lately and I think that I'll incorporate some teambuilding and classbuilding activities a few times per week.  With the block schedule, I think it would offer a perfect brain break to spend 5 minutes in the middle of class to work on building culture.

The second thing that I'd like to do is build employability skills into class.  @cheesemonkeysf  mentioned at some point that she gives a professionalism grade in here classes.  I see this as a good way to encourage students to be responsible.  They can earn points for showing skills and behaviors that employers would look for.  For example, do they come to [work] class on time?  Do they stay on task or do they engage in personal business "on the clock?"  Do they treat their [coworkers] classmates with respect?  How about their [boss] teacher?  Do they turn in work on time?  Do they work well on a team?  Can they work without being micro-managed?  Can they communicate well?  Can they solve problems on their own and seek help when they need it?  Are they technologically literate?  Do they have leadership skills?  Can they follow directions?  Are they self-starters?

I have not thought about the logistics of this yet.  I think I'd like to create a grade where students earn 1-5 points per day being professional and employable.  I'm concerned about the impact on grades though, so I might make this a weighted grade, possibly 5-10%.  I'd love your feedback on this goal if you have some :)

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