The New Year

by Jill Brown

Ever been in a situation where you feel like the biggest looser? No, I don’t mean the reality TV show. I mean a faculty meeting…about data.  Just imagine for a minute, and I’m sure for most of you it won’t be too hard, that you are sitting in a faculty meeting listening to “whoever” going over the school MAP data and state testing data.  The person “who should not be named”, pulls up charts and tables and maybe a colorful bar graph or two.  From the looks of it, everyone is doing great! The grade levels on a whole are showing growth and everyone has smiles on their faces. Then, your grade level data (Keep in mind that you are the highest grade level taught in the school so that makes you LAST. You know, the LAST piece of data that everyone will see.) is displayed and the growth was in the negative realm, south of nowhere. What do you do? Well, you do what comes naturally. You sit there and freak out. Then, after the freakout that no one sees, you go home and pour over your MAP data trying to find some ray of hope. You grab onto that ray, grip it tight, and then let it go knowing you must move on and prepare for the new year, of course, not without reflecting first.

  1. What went wrong? Obviously a lot.
  2. What was different from previous years?

–  I hit menopause this year (That is what the doc said, but I think I’ve been it for a little longer. Just ask my husband.).

– Our 1:1 laptop and BYOD initiative was replaced with 1:1 iPads

– I stayed too long on one concept.

– First year to fully implement CCSS without a curriculum that supported it.

– Did not flip my instruction

– too much time between assessments

3. What are you going to do differently this year?

– Keep my classroom clutter free

– Go back to the weekly contracts and goal setting

– Partially flip instruction

– Allow for more academic conversation

– Implement a curriculum that supports the standards

– explore more with Standard Based Grading

Now that I have reflected and made a skeletal plan of attack for the upcoming school year, my confidence as a competent educator of young minds should return. Well, to tell the truth, I don’t think I have ever felt that I have arrived as an educator. I’m always learning and reflecting and sometimes failing.

In the immortal words of Johnny Cash: You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.