I love setting goals and making resolutions. I am always trying to become a better version of myself. I want to be a better educator, parent, husband, speaker, and more. As educators we set high standards for our students and we motivate them to become their best. We share and encourage resources to improve the lives of our students. We care passionately about their current and future success. We need to do the same for ourselves.
Each year year I write a blog post to inspire educators to become even better and consider accomplishing something that maybe they didn’t think they could do. I challenge teachers to do something that would benefit their classroom, their students, their district, and themselves. Take a look at my list for 2017 and see if you found some that you already do and some that might be a real challenge. I hope you find this list inspiring. I add to this list and change it each year.
1.) Build A Tribe: I want you to create a community where you can share ideas and challenge each other as educators. Your community can be created in anyway you like. Maybe it’s a Facebook group, a book club, a Pinterest Page, a Twitter hastag, or even a blog or podcast. I really enjoy hosting my own blog. (It could be a personal blog, one for your students, or maybe one for you colleagues.) Share the accomplishments you and your students are experiencing. Ask questions. Ask for help. Share what you have learned. Perhaps you can help olve a problem. Archive your best work. Build connections
2) Start a Donor’s Choose Page: Head on over to https://www.donorschoose.org and start a page to get funding for a classroom project or need. Check with your principal or treasurer first, but this is a great way to do some great things in your classroom. You may have read about Stephen Colbert funding every teacher’s Donor’s Choose page in South Carolina, well there are other success stories too. Start small. Start today.
3) Create an iTunes U Course: Apple has created a wonderful tool that allows students and teachers to interact with content. I am so impressed with the iTunes U Course that I really want every teacher I know to create at least one course of their best work and make it available to the world. I am finishing my third course, my first solo, right now, and I am looking forward to having my students access it whenever they’d like, wherever they are. You can learn about it here: http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/ You will be so proud of yourself. Get started on this today.
4) Attend a Technology Conference: I am hoping you already do this, but if you haven’t been to a technology conference this is a must this year. Being around other passionate educators is vital to becoming a master teacher and engaging students. The sessions are usually great, but the real magic is the interaction you have with other teachers, the ideas that spark in your mind, and the network you build while attending. Keep you proverbial axe sharp and sign up for a conference. (If you have recommendations, leave them in the comments below.)
5) Apply to Present at a Conference: Nothing raises your game than preparing for a presentation at a conference. You will enjoy it, learn from it, and make some great connections. Conferences need fresh, new, passionate ideas for education. If you have attended a conference make applying to present at one a resolution for this year.
6) Apply to an Educational Program: There are some phenomenal educational programs available to teachers like the Apple Distinguished Educator Program and the Google Certified Teacher Academy. Acceptance to one of these organizations is not about personal glorification, but rather an opportunity to meet and work alongside some of them most amazing educators in the world. It’s also a responsibility and commitment to produce great works and share them with other educators. You will learn so much! I highly recommend you apply to the programs I have mentioned and others that recognize the works of outstanding educators. Be a part of it! Apply! Your school and students will also benefit from it as well. If you don’t make it, vow to apply again. Even the application process will make you a better educator through reflection.
7) Promote Your Students: Find ways to recognize your students accomplishments and abilities. This can be as simple as attending one of their after-school events or creating a classroom certificate or something more like submitting their work in a contest or creating a recognition banquet. Spend time researching or creating ways to recognize your students’ creative works.
8) Recognize a Colleague: Fill out an application to recognize one of your fellow teachers. Nominate them for the work they do. Do it. Learn about your fellow teachers and find out what you love about their classroom and methods. The next time you see an opportunity to recommend or nominate a teacher take the time and do it right. This is important!
9) Subscribe to an Educational Blog or Podcast: There are some amazing educational blogs and podcasts available for educators. So many great choices! Find one that you connect with and subscribe to it via email. Every time they post you will receive it in your inbox. Comment on the posts. Get engaged. Raise your game. (Hey! You can even subscribe to Wired Educator.) Tell your colleagues about what you are reading and listening.
10) Invite a Colleague to Your Educational Personal Learning Network: Rather than tell someone they should be on Twitter, sit down with them and help them create an account, show them who to follow, teach them about hashtags, and makes some suggestions. You can do this for any social network, resource, or PLN, but don’t just say it… show it.
11) Read a Book to Become a Game-Changer in Education: There are so many great books being published each week in education. I love it! Check my blog and podcast for interviews and reviews of the top educational authors and reads. Books really change lives and help us become our best. I also would like to recommend my book, Along Came a Leader, for your reading list. Along Came a Leader will help you, your students, your administrators, your volunteers, and the families you influence become better leaders. I hope you will check it out. I also hope you will comment and recommend some great educational books for me. There are many great books on the Dave Burgess Consulting site as well that I recommend.
12) Attend Your Students’ Special Functions: Attend a sporting event, a concert, or commencement. Let your students see that you care. You are an important person in their lives and it means so much to them when they see you in the stands or audience clapping for them. Do it. You will be so thankful you did.
13) Invite Parents to Write You a Letter About Their Child: Each year I ask my students to write a letter to me introducing themselves and letting me know their needs. It is always helpful and a good idea to read letters from students. The last couple of years I have asked the parents of my students to write me a letter telling me about their child. Wow! I was floored with what I read. These letters helped me understand and connect with each student in ways I never knew imaginable. I see the wonder, talent, and possibilities in each and every student, and at a deeper level than I have ever experienced before. If you have never done this, please give it a try. I also think it was powerful for the parents and students as well.
14) Provide Professional Development Opportunities: Take the time to share with others the cool things you know. Don’t presume everybody already knows it, or that no one would be interested. You can provide your professional development in many ways. Your blog could be one way, a podcast, an email, a session after school, or something bigger. Share what you know with whomever will listen.
15) Level-Up and Earn Some Badges on The Apple Teacher Learning Center: Become an Apple Teacher. I love this! This is a fun, free and engaging way to earn badges while learning how to better use apple resources in education. Absolutely free and worth while! https://appleteacher.apple.com I finished all of mine and I encourage you to do the same.
16) Keep a School Journal: A friend and colleague at work gives me a Moleskine journal each year. It’s awesome. I keep a journal at home, but a special one at school is great for reflecting, logging parent communications, meetings with students, brainstorming ideas, and keeping notes on your year. I highly recommend it. Keep it simple.
17) Earn Your Google Apps for Education Certification: If you are using Google Apps for Education, and you should, you might consider leveling-up and really learning how to use them well with your students and colleagues by completing these online courses: https://edutrainingcenter.withgoogle.com Some of the training is free. The certifications cost $10 and then $25 for each level. Do the free ones first and then ask your school to support your certification if you are still interested. Regardless, you will level-up and have more to offer.
18) Re-think Homework: I’m not telling you not to give homeowork, but to really question everything you assign and how it may impact every home, and what diffrence it is really making. Listen to this podcast interview for more: WEP 55: If You Are Going to Have Homework, Do it Better!
19) Post Your Goals in Your Classroom: Goals are great. I believe in personal goals, family goals, professional goals, and classroom goals. Share your goals for the classroom, with your classroom. Write them down on a posterboard and hang it on the wall. Let the the kids ask questions and make suggestions. I will bet by displaying these goals where YOU can see them, they will be more likely to happen.
20) Communicate with Parents: Don’t avoid this important process of education. Keep in contact with your students’ parents. Find which methods and times work best for THEM. Make three categories of contact: those you are worried about, friendly check-up, and those who are excelling. Knock a few of these out each day and set a goal to contact every family by a certain date. Use a timer. Use a calender. Mass updates can be made on Remind and Google Classroom or other LMS.
21) Be You: Here is your permission to be you. Educators are under so much pressure to align themselves with certain scores and demands that they sometimes lose their identity. Be you. Be authentic. Don’t try to be someone else. Have confidence in what you do. Keep working to be better. Borrow ideas from others. But… be you. We need unique, passionate educators.