Posted in Education, Reflection, Teaching

Am I Working Towards my Professional Goal in the Classroom?

In school I never had to set goals for myself as a student.  While I certainly wish I had been afforded the opportunity, perhaps it does make me better appreciate the value of goal setting as an adult.  Having goals in mind, helps give me a purpose and a roadmap of sorts.  I know where I want to go professionally because of my goals.  I want to grow as a educator in particular avenues each year.  Setting goals allows me to do this.  But, setting the goals is only part one of the process.

Reflecting on the process throughout the year is as important if not more important than the actual goal itself.  Without a chance to periodically review my progress in working towards my goals, how will I know what I still need to do to achieve my goals by the close of the academic year?  Goal reflection is a crucial part of the goal setting process.  In the classroom, I have my students reflect on their goals throughout the year so that they know what they’ve done to work towards their goals and what they still need to do to achieve them.  So, in order to practice what I preach, I want to be sure I do the same.  Being a positive role model is an important part of who I am as an educator.

Individual Goal: Effectively close or wrap up each lesson.

In my Humanities class, I feel as though I am doing this rather well on a daily basis.  I ask the students which habits of learning they feel they worked on in class today.  I then have them elaborate on how they utilized the particular skill or habit.  This allows the students to practice using the new terminology that guides everything we do in the classroom as well as acting as an effective summary tool.  The students all need to think about what they did during the period in order to add to the discussion.  This method of closing Humanities class works well.  I make use of this practice at the end of almost every class period.  So, for Humanities, I am definitely working towards my goal.

In STEM class, I’m not as regularly successful in effectively closing my lessons.  While I do try to end each class period with a preview of the next day’s class, I don’t feel as though I am allowing the students to process what was covered or learned in class on that particular day.  I feel as though I need to find another way to close my STEM classes.

On group project work days, I do have the students reflect in writing on their work ethic and habits of learning as they pertain to group work.  This opportunity allows the students to deeply reflect on the class and set individual goals for the next group project work period.  This method of ending class does demonstrate my ability to meet the goal I set.  However, I only do this once a week.

So, what else can I do on a daily basis to close my STEM classes in a more effective and reflective manner?

More self-assessment?  What if I have the students complete a generic, yet effective self-assessment worksheet at the close of every other class period that is not a group project work period?  Perhaps having a worksheet prepared and ready to go might help guide them through the reflective self-assessment process in a methodical manner.  Ohh, I like this idea.  This could be short and simple like an Exit Ticket.  I could ask some Yes or No questions with a series of checkboxes.  I could also then include a summary question and a future goal question.  I want to generate something that would not be too taxing for the students but allow for some deeper reflection on the class period as it pertains to each student.  I could then use this data to more effectively organize my classes.  So cool.  But, is that it for ideas?

What about a check-in assessment on days when new content or topics are introduced?  That might be useful as a formative assessment tool as well.  It could include one or two content questions and an open-ended future type question like, What else do you want to learn?  Great idea!  I could use that on Science work period days.  It might be difficult to utilize something like that on a Math work period since the math instruction is so individualized.

So, on group project work days I will have the students reflect on the habits of learning they utilized and their individual work ethic.  On math work days, I will have the students complete a self-assessment form reflecting on their individual work ethic, work accomplished, and goals for the next work period.  Then, on science work period days, the students will complete a check-in assessment regarding the content or skills covered and/or practiced.  This sounds like a plan.  Go me!  Now I just need to create these forms.  I think I’ll use Google Forms for them.  This way I can save trees and easily collate the data.  Go me, again!  I’m on fire today.

Department Chair Goal: Create a document explaining and detailing the sixth grade curriculum and program at my school.

This is still a work in progress, and by that I mean, I’ve given it some thought but nothing has actually been written down or documented formally yet.  I may need to use a school vacation or break to accomplish this goal.  Piecemealing it together may not be the most effective way to meet this goal.  I have some ideas, I just need the time to put them altogether in writing.  I’ll keep working on this goal over the course of the year.

So, I’m making progress and I have a plan for how to move forward and make even more progress.  Nice!  Taking the time to reflect on my professional goals has allowed me to realize what I still need to focus on moving forward.  Had I not taken this opportunity to reflect, I may not have generated a plan to move forward.  Progress comes about through reflection and action.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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