When colleagues asked me what my plans for the summer were, I basically told them I’d be moving into a new apartment, with all the preparation and work that requires, and from there on, I’d figure it out.
Well, the summer is nearly finished, and when I see my colleagues next week, I’ll be telling them that a significant portion of my summer went to my own professional development.
I think I am filled with more excitement at the onset of this school year than ever before. It’s been a particularly reflective summer for me. I’ve blogged extensively about things that inspire me, but I’ve also sought out new ways of thinking. In addition, I’ve vastly expanded my virtual PLN to include some phenomenal people. This began at the Reform Symposium and has not stopped in the last month. I’ve tweeted up with some wonderful people, established new relationships, and furthered old ones. For the first time, I’ve also made a concerted effort to catalog the resources available online and actually enact ideas I like, rather than just sit on my hands and say, “Oh, that sounds nice.”
Because of all this, I am entering my classroom to set up next week with a renewed vision for what it should be like, and for perhaps the first time, truly ready to live by my mantra as a teacher: “I’m in it for the kids.”
As such, I spent some time today working through this list of back to school activities and planning some in earnest. One of the ideas I really loved was to give each student an opportunity to make a pennant. On it, I’ve decided they will put their name and a goal for the year – a learning goal, a social goal, or any goal they like. After all, one of my big personal pushes this year is choice. The pennants will hang together and be perfect compliments to our “Field of Dreams” theme.
This year, I want my kids to dream big, believe in themselves, and rise above adversity when it hits. I want them to develop their self-worth. I am particularly inspired by Angela Maiers’ Ted Talk, “You Matter“. This is a message we all must hear, but more than that, our students must. I aim to make “You Matter” one of the hallmarks of my class this year.
Because of that, on day one, we will have a shared reading of the pennant I created. It is fairly dense with text given the reading levels of my students, but I know if we isolate pieces of it together, it will become less threatening. I’ll hang it with their pennants and hope it will serve as a reminder to them of how important they are and how much they can accomplish. They will be able to read it independently and, I hope, internalize the message. It will also remind me what I want my message to be. In a way, it will be a silent guard that keeps me on track and in line, motivating my students, trying to uplift them.
My vision right now includes our pennants hanging proudly, and students walking around all year telling each other how important they are to one another. It’s a utopian vision that needs to be cultivated from day one, and will take much work to achieve. However, I aim to achieve it with my students. I believe in it. I believe in them. They need to believe in themselves. They need to believe they matter.