Monday, September 1, 2014

What Do I Hope to Accomplish This Year...

This has been a wonderful summer for me professionally.  I was able to get a great deal of reading done that has served to inspire and give me some wonderful ideas for the year to come.  I am hopeful that I can share this enthusiasm with my students starting tomorrow morning and working to keep that enthusiasm up every day.  

My first goal is to help my students to become more reflective learners.  We always talk about wanting our students to be "life-long learners," but what do we do to encourage it.  One of the first books I read this summer was Mindset by Carol Dweck.  In it, she discusses, among other things the difference between the "growth" and "fixed" mindset.  This went hand-in-hand with Drive by Dan Pink, which I had read before, but re-read as professional development for our school's professional development committee.  In both books, the importance of reflection as part of the learning process is stressed.  

To aid in this, my students are going to be writing blog posts answering a couple of questions from Pink's book: Why am I learning this? and Why is this relevant to the world I am living in today? (page 190).  Part of my students' development toward that "growth mindset" will be to reflect on what happened during assessments over the course of the year, the idea being that being that in order to grow, students should look at things that they did that brought about a specific outcome and not look to external forces for why they scored the way that they did.  Edutopia produced "40 Reflection Questions" at the beginning of the summer, and I made sure to bookmark it and will be referring to them frequently as we move along.

My second goal is to help my students ask better questions.  I had made a decision about this even before last school year ended and read Make Just One Change from the Right Question Institute last spring.  The premise here is that students need to be taught what questions to ask and when.  Questions that provide one word answers, while sometimes discourage by teachers (my thought not theirs), are not always bad ones.  Those kinds of questions can help students gain information that they otherwise might not have had.  However, if those are the only kinds of questions that they ask, then will struggle to get much of the information that they need.  I am looking forward to teaching this process next week.  I have no doubt that it will proceed with fits and starts, but by the end of the year, my students should be in a better place.

I am truly excited to begin school tomorrow.  I believe that this is a year filled with promise and opportunity for professional growth.  Writing these blog posts will, hopefully, get me in the habit of reflecting myself, so that I can model the "reflective learner" that I want my students to become.


Justine Hughes said...

Hi Dan! Great to have you part of the TeachThought blogging challenge. I really enjoyed reading your goals - we think the same way and I'm a huge fan of Carol Dweck's work. James Nottinghma - Challenging Learning is another favourite and he often cites Carol's work as he has also worked with her.
I'm looking forward to reading more about how you're getting your students to self-reflect more. This has long been a passion of mine and I've had students blogging for many years to do this. Great for sharing with parents and creating a digital portfolio too.
Thanks for sharing with us. Look forward to reading more. :-)

Heather Hollands said...

Thank you for the suggestions for finding out more about reflective learning. I'll have to read Daniel Pink's "Drive." I really liked his "A Whole New Mind."