While reading Jeff Utecht's latest post, entitled End of year summative self assessment, I thought that the questions his supervisor provided for him to answer were a great starting point for some reflection on my part as well. So, here are my answers if Jeff's supervisor were asking me the very same questions.
1.What has been your greatest success this year? Have you been successful in meeting your professional goals? What specific examples can you provide?
There were many things that I accomplished this year that I had set out to do, and many more that grew out of what David Warlick would call "side trips." Here is a short list of things I am proud of:
- Our district now boasts ten active wikis on wikispaces, where in September when I took this position, we had none. I promoted them as a collaborative learning piece and as a way to extend the classroom beyond the 40 minutes we have with our students.
- One of the wikis took a page directly out of Will Richardson's book in that we invited the author to participate in the wiki and then Skyped him in at the completion of the project to answer student questions. This went a long way towards humanizing writers for the students.
- Professional Development Classes have been revamped in the district and infused with a learner centric focus. The key for me was to move away from the "make and take" philosophy. That works really well for elementary school teachers, but middle and high school teachers weren't responding to those workshops. I focused the classes on making the teacher more productive and efficient in their own research and planning using Web 2.0 tools, with the idea that this summer and fall, we can move the skills they became comfortable with to the students and into the classroom.
- Leading by example. For instance, I wanted my staff to become familiar with blogs and connective writing, so in addition to this blog I started something called the Tech Dossier, which highlights useful sites and more importantly teachers who are using technology in their classrooms within the district.
2.What has been you biggest challenge this year? How have you adapted your professional or personal practice to meet and overcome this challenge? Do you feel you were successful? Why?
Again, I don't think this one can be solved without resorting to list format:
- Getting teachers to buy into what I am trying to help them do. Essentially, my job is about helping teachers use tools to make them better at what they do. The various road blocks that teachers put up to stop that process (see "180," by Barry), or the road blocks that are put up independent of the teachers, really cause me spin my wheels at times.
- This issue was apparent more so at the high school than at the middle school, which could be caused by a variety of factors, one being severe network issues that scared many teachers away from relying on the technology to work.
- Managing the information v. time continuum was a real problem. Even with great tools like Google Reader and Notebook, del.icio.us, and Diigo, the amount of great information always trumped the time I had to reflect on it.
3.What has provided you with the greatest joy in your work this year? How have you found your work enjoyable?
The discovery of work as play once again invigorated me in every sense. As I wrote in an open letter to my children the other day
Your future is not just my responsibility as a parent, it is also my responsibility as someone in the position to institute real change in the way we understand and execute the processes of learning and teaching.The amount of problem solving I did in this school year was three to four times as much as I had done in the classroom. That may be an indictment on my teaching style, but this year presented myriad problems of all shapes and sizes. Some were really techie, and I had to reach way above my head to solve them. Others were a matter of finding the right tool for the job/project and applying it successfully. But every one of them was unique and refreshing.
My real hope for you is that you discover what I have recently discovered about working: it has to be grounded in the same ideas you are using now at your ages. Discovery. Mistake. Attempt. Attempt. Attempt. Failure. BooBoo and ouch. Play. Build. Create. Mix. Smear. Mess.
4.Where do you go from here? What is next for you as a professional challenge for next year? Look ahead and predict what type of goals you would like for yourself in the 07-08 school year.
This next year is about instituting philosophical change within the buildings I work in. There is a core group of teachers in both buildings that are all in and willing to change the way they approach teaching in the 21st Century. My aim is to build within that group, prop them up to the rest of the staff and cause an epidemic. To that end, I would like to create a blogging community within the buildings for these teachers to share ideas, link out to other teachers in similar positions, and model what 21st Century learning is to their students and to their colleagues.
There are several things next year that I need to dedicate myself to, projects that need monitoring and growing and some serious thought. A virtual school should be a feasible option for our students by the end of the 07-08 school year. Our teachers, administrators and office personal should be masters of the SIS that we use. And our schools should be connected to information, in the words of MediaSnackers: "Whatever, Wherever, Whenever."