Every year on New Years Eve we ask our friend Louis to predict what the coming year will be the year of. We have had the year of the nano, the year of the block, the year of the cone. I distinctly remember that 2010 was the year of the boy because his wife, his sister in law, and I were all pregnant and expecting boys. I can’t remember what Louis predicted you to be the year of. He’s an actor and not a teacher so there’s really no telling what it could have been but if I could rewind time to December 31st, 2013 I would have named you the year of the acronym.
Here are the ones that I have spent 2014 immersed in. This was my first year as a teacher leader with the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD). I spent the year helping to mentor, train, and go through my own Teacher Principal Evaluation Project (TPEP). I have worked with the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) thinking deeply about the leadership framework. Twice I presented at the National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) conferences this year. My English Language Arts (ELA) departments in my district have been working to spread the use of the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and their rubrics. We have been working on Performance Tasks (PT’s) that are designed to be more like the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessments our students will take in the spring. Last summer I spent a week attending and presenting at the High Schools That Work (HSTW) and College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) conferences. I also recently learned that they Common Core State Standards (CCSS) or now being called the Washington State Learning Standards (WSLS). See what I mean, so many acronyms.
I am not really trying to imply that acronyms themselves are good or bad, but when there are this many it sure can get confusing. What I do realize and hope to point out is that each of these stands for something new or something attempting to help teachers and students deal with the new. Each one of these sets of letters impacts our daily lives as teachers, and our students successes and learning. It’s a lot! Some of these initiatives and changes are causational to the organizations and conferences that come as a result. Some of these acronyms stand for those that are there to help us wade through all the newness and get what is good from change and not drown in what is too much. Despite the fact that they are all intertwined and the best intentions of those who are trying to help 2014 has felt like being in the middle of a snow ball fight. The catch is that you are expected to not only defend yourself from the flying snow but to grab each one as it is lobbed at you and use it to build a fort in the mean time. At the end of it all I am left spinning and though I took a few good hits to the head, and a few to the back, my fort is beginning to come together.
So, so long 2014, my hope is that 2015 will have less new acronyms. I hope that it will be, for once, just the same ones. I hope that things that seem cumbersome and overwhelming can start to come together more clearly. I hope that 2015 is the year of the connections and triumphs. I am looking forward to spending it growing as a teacher and to keeping the mentality that there is good in change, but that we need the time and resources to keep that focus. Let’s see how many of these acronyms we can fit together and turn into quality teaching, best practice and student growth.
Thank you 2014 for all you have given me and allowed me to do, I will move forward with new knowledge and hope to keep my head down and focussed on the fort and not the snowballs.