Starting the Year Strong: Five Things to Accomplish before the End of September

5-Things-I-Wish-Id-Known-Before-Becoming-a-Consumer-Advocate1By Nick McDaniels — Another school year is here! And I am excited.

My students are amazing. Some of them I am teaching for a second or third year. I am more comfortable with my preps, teaching the exact same schedule two years in a row for the first time in my career. But with all this excitement and comfort, I still need to remember that there is a lot of improvement to be done, for me, and for all teachers. A little universal goal setting goes a long way for us professionally.

So here’s my take on five things I, and every other teacher, should try to accomplish by the end of September.

  1. I should have spoken to, emailed, US mailed, every parent/guardian of every kid on my roster. These relationships are critical to the long term success of my students.
  2. I should have planned at least one exciting field trip/experiential activity for our students at some point this year. With the increase in testing and decreasing in funding, such experiences are becoming rare without significant teacher initiation. Our students deserve learning outside of the classroom.
  3. I should have had multiple serious conversations, and planned lessons around, the “after-me” prospects of my students. For my seniors, this means talking about college and the world of work and what they need to get ready. For other students this means getting an understanding of what students need for the next year and discussing those things with students.
  4. I should have heard significant contributions from every student in my class during discussions. If by the end of September, I can’t recognize someone by their voice and voice alone, I am not engaging ALL of my students enough.
  5. I should have be sure to have looked at the PARCC test samples and critically examined how it will impact my students. PARCC is here. It will take time away from teaching and learning, but it is a gatekeeper, for teachers and students. How can we tackle it, move beyond it, and begin to teach again.

I’d say, at the beginning of every school year, if I have set and met these goals by the end of September, the year will be a good one. So here’s to it.

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