Last year was my first year in a new role and it was…something. I left for summer like a survivor of some mental and emotional ordeal. My family vacation was spent thinking about things that I didn’t do, or need to do. Relaxation never came on all my family travels as little flashbacks of this year’s events kept interrupting whatever was going on. Spending so much time thinking seems like a pre-burnout symptom, so there needs to be a change and what else can I change but myself.
So, how am I going to avoid ending the year feeling like a weathered and grizzled old man. Well, I want to have a plan, three plans actually: a plan for the upcoming year, and also a plan for how I will work and carryout that plan, and finally a plan for myself. Since today is the first day that I’m officially returning, why not start the year blogging!
My back-of-the-napkin plan for this year for teaching, administering, and leading.
My school gives teachers so much autonomy and such great possibilities, that teaching here is truly magical. But like we’ve learned from the Harry Potter series has taught us anything, magic can easily become a burden (I only watched the movies, is that a valid reference?). Figuring out what to teach, staying on top of my classes, and giving timely feedback to students became burdens very quickly when teaching was not my primary focus. I am going to teach 4 classes next year, 3 of them I have taught before, 1 of them is going to be brand new. Class 1 is the Quadratics/Linear, 2 will be a new Exponential/Linear class. This is part of my plan to teach linear and another function at the same time to promote connections. Class 3 will be Probability, and Class 4 will be Statistics. Both of these classes are repeats that I am excited to ratchet up the rigor on, and can build off of one another for students who repeat. Pedagogically speaking I want to turn my classes into a series of instructional routines. After #tmcnyc16 I am on board with the ideas of activities that can support students in connections and I really hope my department can get on board with this too. Making kids think about new things every day is hard at a school that has new students changing classes frequently. Reusing different modules that kids can get familiarize in my class, and maybe other classes, will help to have more consistency. Teaching will have to be covered more in another blog, time to get on to administrating.
Administrating last year was treading carefully around many little things that can bubble up into real emergencies if not dealt with well. Let’s call ‘administrating’ the and overseeing of tasks necessary for a school to function, in order to separate it from working with people and moving the school forward, which could be called ‘leadership.’ It wasn’t until halfway into the year that the full scope of administrative problems came into focus. This year I am starting to set up lots of small things successfully in order to make this year smoother. The student records are reorganized. The computer systems are upgraded. I took pictures of every classroom in the school so I can answer any furniture questions without having to run the stairs. Hopefully I can carry this proactiveness into the year. That will mean meeting early with the leadership team, the math team, and the support staff and make sure we all are completely clear about the direction we want this year to go, which also deals with leadership.
Leading, and how I am fulfilling my role as a leader, was only rarely thought about last year. I don’t really even know what to write here, that’s how little I thought of it. This year I plan to think about it more, and as I think about it, I’m going to blog about it. Let’s say twice a week for now, over on systemsforthecity.wordpress.com. I’ll meet more with other school leaders and try to pick up ideas, as well as reading some relevant books (or let’s be real, watching videos about them), and try to be open and honest about that journey.
So that is the back-of-the-napkin plan for the year. I’ll talk about how I am carrying out that plan and how I’ll try to plan for myself.