Thursday, January 31, 2013

Personal Goals

Lifelong Learners establish personal goals as a natural piece of their daily survival. Goals are what help them identify who they are, provide a platform for learning, push them forward, and allow for opportunities of growth. Personal goals also anchor our focus, give intentionality to our days, open doors for feedback, and have potential to send inspiration into the world.

I consider the sharing of goals a personal decision. It takes courage to move through the learning process. A safe and supportive learning environment is required to support growth. Sharing knowledge, ideas, and resources requires less personal risk and is how previous accomplished goals grow into inspiration for others. But sharing the layer of how information directly affects our goals opens a window into your personal world. That is the piece that requires trust.

I personally count on my goals to guide my journey; my adventure that unfolds each day. Learning goals, though, are something I hold dear. I am a very open book, and most often an overly exuberant person who shares loudly with the world. However, when it comes to the sharing of my personal goals and growth I protect my own learning by ensuring I am sharing in a safe environment full of passionate learners. So often I hide this piece of me, keeping my personalized learning journey close to my heart.

I articulate my goals to those I trust and respect to provide me with effective feedback. I am very thankful for the people in my life that listen intently to my goals, offer insight and evidence of my progress, provide honesty in how to further improve, and support me with resources and ideas to keep my goals alive.

We want our students to identify with goals that drive their learning. Goals that help them raise the bar for themselves. Goals that will help them reach beyond the rainbow. But we must ensure that an environment is established that supports learning challenges, personal reflection, and progress towards these goals. Solid relationships are the foundation from which we take the risk to fly, because these relationships will also be the cushion that supports our potential fall from great heights.

Before pushing your students to share their personal goals, make sure the environment in which they open up to supports their whole heart.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Let It Unfold Naturally

Ever have  a moment in education where what you feel pushed to do and what you think is right collide? I had one of those moments this past weekend as I was thinking ahead to the major testing we have this week in reading. I began reflecting on the item types and questions that can come up on the assessment which had me thinking about what could be CRAMMED in this week. 

That saddens me really, because we have been so engaged in purposeful and meaningful learning these past few weeks. Our students have been delving into genres with renewed interest and digging deep into different kinds of text through close reading. We wrapped up Wonder and our students created amazing precepts of their own, many drawing on their One Little Words or our December study of respecting diversity. In math students are expanding their strategies for the basic operations and applying their understanding of the mathematical practice of "One big whole, break it up" to fractions, decimals and division (that last one without even labeling it with the D word!). Our work with science has infused our curriculum connecting our mathematical practices to science applications, finding symbolism and learning about electricity in our reading of The City of Ember and even experimenting in our work with art (ever consider all the variables that can affect a watercolor painting?). We are even extending our work with culture into the diversity that shaped the formation of the United States. Our learning has been varied, yet intentional, and in many cases it is the kids that have spun our thinking into even new and better ideas, letting the learning UNFOLD NATURALLY!

And this is where I am grateful that I am able to process my thinking with Celina. I sent her a text about something that could be CRAMMED in, but without my rationale. She then responded with her own thinking, and I was forced to rethink my idea and recognize if for the proverbial TEACH TO THE TEST CLIFF. I jokingly thanked her for allowing me to talk myself "off the ledge" and relaxed. Amazing, engaging and powerful learning happens in our classroom every day, and taking time away from that for just one test is not honoring our students or our goals.

So as the week unfolds, I vow to let it do so naturally. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My One Little Word for 2013

A New Year always begins with a gusto of goals, promises, endeavors, challenges, resolutions, etc. When Ann introduced me to Ali Edwards' One Little Word (OLW) last January I was struck by the simplicity of choosing one word to encompass, or rather summarize, the achievement one hoped for in the new year. After participating with OLW during 2012, I realized the deep impact one word could have and was impressed with how a word could positively change your personal character. INSPIRE brought me opportunities, conversations, knowledge, ideas, and a plethora of possibilities. From all the inspiration that I encountered and shared during 2012, I was able to change my mindset as a learner and approach my professional journey with eyes wide open.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Today kicked off one of the best forms of Professional Development I have ever experienced, thus resulting in major #brainspins. (Thank you, Google Hangout!)