As this school year wound to an end and I held on for the last few days, I struggled to begin, let alone finish, this post. I was writing (well, trying to) about text complexity and academic vocabulary but my heart wasn’t in it. Summer was right around the corner…so close I could smell the sunscreen, and imagine sleeping in…. As I tried to write the blog, one of my colleagues and dear friends said, “Why not just be honest about what you’re thinking and people probably don’t want to read about text complexity at the end of June anyway?” Fair enough.
So here is honest:
Summer has always been a time where I was able to reflect on the year that just happened, regroup my resources, and refocus my energy for the next go around. In the scope of the Danielson framework, summer is when I lay the groundwork for Domains 1 and 4. The past few years I have not felt that I laid that foundation very well. Each of those summers I was traveling to more trainings and conventions, sitting in meetings, working on new curriculum and committees, planning, reading materials, sitting in more meetings, and facilitating more trainings. Granted, these activities are all part of Professional Responsibilities (Domain 4-d, e), but I was missing the ultimate follow through of completely carrying all of this work over into my teaching. I wasn’t taking the time I needed to pull it all together before I started the next race. This year, I commit to doing it differently.
Reflect: In my mind, the overarching component of TPEP is reflection: What is working well and why? What is not and why? How can I fix it to make it better for the kids? Reflection helps guide our planning, preparation, assessment, and instruction. I am a person who saves my paper copy plan books year after year. I know, I’m a little old school. I like being able to flip back through the pages and calendars, look at my notes and make more notes and then translate that into a new outline of the next plan. Summer, with the end of year evaluation complete, is a great time to be honest with yourself about what worked and what didn’t : an emotion-free evaluation if you will. One of the benefits I have this year is time and data. Besides my plan book, I am examining my PD materials, the results and reflection for my previous student growth goal (6.1 ), and my feedback from student and principal evaluations. I have a tentative plan outlined now, will let it stew a bit in steamy July, and get back at it in depth in August.
Regroup: I got to the end of this year and I found that my mind and my stuff are everywhere and it has finally reached a crisis level. My files are in disarray, my materials are scattered about in various piles, other piles sit in exactly the same place they started the year in when I moved from this room to that room and this office to that office and never quite got it all put back together. Domains 1 and 4 are the “unobservables” but they definitely affect how smoothly things are going in 2-Classroom Environment and 3- Instruction. If you are running the marathon before you remember you haven’t even tied your shoes, you end up working harder not smarter. You know you have the resources but in the flurry of the race, you can’t locate exactly what you need. This summer I commit to:
- naming my electronic files clearly & getting them in the correct folders
- getting rid of the “stuff” (you know, the downloads and files that looked good at the time but are actually junk)
- organizing all of my “Teacher Notes” for texts
- organizing the space- putting my teaching life back together in a way that is sustainable (i.e.- all of the stuff I moved again I will actually unpack & organize or get rid of)
- cleaning up my webpage to make it more user friendly
Refocus: Energy. Summer is the ultimate recharge session. Granted, most teachers spend some portion (or all) of their summer working but everyone needs a break. My mind is always churning in the background and ideas do come to me but I am going back to the practice of jotting them down in my journal and coming back to them at the start of August. I have 1 training, a couple of meetings but those are done before the 4th of July. Otherwise, time outside, time with my family, and reading for myself are on the to-do list this summer. Having fresh energy and a cleared and refocused mind will help me bring all of those pieces together: planning, professionalism, classroom, and instruction.
So there’s the struggle. I promise text complexity and academic vocabulary conversation in the future but for now, I’m picking up the pieces of my teaching life and putting them back together in a more orderly and functional fashion. How will you recharge and lay a solid foundation this summer?