My aims for next year (2017-18)

Last summer, I published a post titled My aims for next year. A year later, it’s pleasing and satisfying to revisit that post, knowing that I achieved these aims. Admittedly, some were achieved to a greater extent than others, but I can confidently state that I have made progress with all of them.

That post did not attract a huge audience. I don’t expect this one to either. Perhaps they’re too personal and inapplicable to others. Nevertheless, I benefit from documenting my aims. The reflective process clarifies my targets, forces me to consider my course of action and keeps me accountable. Unlike last year, I now have a pedagogical leadership role to think about in addition to my classroom aims.

Below are nine aims that I have identified at this stage. I will no doubt think of more later.

  • To use HyperDocs to support guided inquiries

A HyperDoc (typically made using Google Docs) is much more than a digital worksheet. They are designed with interactive elements to guide students throughout their inquiries while providing opportunities for creativity, communication, critical thinking and collaboration.

Teachers Give Teachers is a fantastic website that promotes the #Give1Take1 idea. Teachers are encouraged to submit ‘view only’ links to their HyperDocs so that others can freely create copies and edit for their own classroom use. Just before the summer break, I submitted my first HyperDoc. You can see my example here. I’m a HyperDoc newbie so it might not be the best example. I encourage you to take a deeper look around the site. I hope to use this service increasingly as I further explore the use of HyperDocs in my class.

  • To refine my Genius Hour practice

It was one of last year’s targets to start allocating regular class time to Genius Hour. I did this throughout the year. Although I’m proud of my progress and ‘getting the ball rolling’, I acknowledge that these sessions were not as successful as they could have been. To ‘level up’, I now need to refine what happens towards the end of the passion projects.

To take it to the next level, my main priorities are:

  1. Offer better opportunities for students to share their learning
  2. Encourage students to consider meaningful action, and support them in taking it
  3. Be more intentional about formative assessment

I have just finished reading The Genius Hour Guidebook (by Denise Krebs and Gallit Zvi) and I highly recommend it for those who are just starting out with Genius Hour or, like me, are hoping to refine it.

  • Create my own flipped content on a more regular and consistent basis

A few months ago, I completed the Flipped Learning Certification course. I am a proud ambassador of the Flipped Learning Global Initiative and I believe in the benefits of this pedagogical approach. Although I have regularly flipped content that others have created, I am still not creating my own content as regularly as I should (seeing/hearing their own teacher in videos is much more beneficial to students). I aim to create more content next year.

As the new Head of Year, I am also in a position to flip content for staff. I will do this when appropriate in order to allow more flexibility, space to think and to utilise our precious time together in meetings.

  • To identify, utilise and celebrate the strengths of my Year Four colleagues

I am a strong believer that all educators hold strengths that are valuable contributions to teams. Likewise, we all have areas for development that our colleagues can help us with. Each member of the Year Four team offers something unique and makes us stronger. I want us to identify each other’s strengths (if we don’t already know), celebrate the strengths through regular sharing, and call on one another for support. This will require a strong ethos of trust and collaboration. We already have this, but we can build on it and make better use of it.

  • To manage administrative tasks

As silly as it might sound, I am genuinely quite nervous about my new responsibility for administrative tasks. For example, managing the Year Four budget, organising our three-day camp, etc. These are things that I have never done before and I really do not want to mess them up! Hopefully, I’ll be a quick learner! Anyway, I have Ada as Assistant Head of Year and she’s fantastic! Like I have said before, she will undoubtedly carry me through next year and be the real brains behind Year Four!

  • Learn the names of all Year Four students

With over two hundred students in the year band, I fully expect to fail this challenge. The aim, really, is to learn as many names as possible (but, as the saying goes, you have to aim higher to hit the mark). I can’t really back this up with research (because I haven’t carried any out), but there’s a difference between “Good morning” and “Good morning, Michelle”. Likewise, there’s a difference between “How are you?” and “How are you, Peter?”. Names matter, and using them make people feel valued as individuals.

“PIRATE leaders embrace the notion that their primary role is culture first, culture next, culture always.”

Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf, Lead Like a PIRATE

  • To develop a Year Four culture of learning, risk-taking and innovation

In the 21st-century, we can set our own individual goals (like I’m doing here), often unconnected to school priorities and funding, and independently learn at our own pace at our own convenience. Professional development opportunities that are offered by our workplaces are fantastic and highly appreciated, but nowadays they are just one of many avenues of professional learning. One of our Year Four targets is to engage in professional reading, discuss it, and use it to develop our practice.

‘Innovation’ seems like a big, scary word (it did to me, anyway) but, as George Couros puts it, innovating is really just about doing things in new, better ways. I am reminded of this thought-provoking quote:

“Good is the enemy of great.”

Jim Collins

When things are good and already work well, we are less likely to consider improvements. Year Four is already good. Much better than good, in fact. And what we do is very effective. Nevertheless, we should always be applying our professional learning and working with each other to improve what we do. We will take risks, learn from our inevitable mishaps and move forward for the benefit of our students.

  • To develop my coaching practice

In Lead Like a PIRATE, there are a few excellent chapters about coaching and ANCHOR conversations (well worth a read). This is currently the extent of my professional learning in this area (and I have no experience of coaching or being coached). I am excited to be attending a professional development event in September and I am keen to apply it. I am lucky to work in a school that has prioritised coaching for the whole staff. We have developed a unique coaching system that will kick off very soon, so I look forward to developing my practice and benefiting as both a coach and a coachee. Look out for future blog posts on this!

  • To bridge the gap between Year Four and Five

I aim to work closely with the Year Five team and their HOY to work towards a smoother transition. I want to learn about Year Five and especially the PYP Exhibition process. What can we do in Year Four to help our students with Year Five expectations? What can we do in Year Four to support our Year Five colleagues? I don’t yet know the answers to these questions, so I aim to find out and act on them.

This ended up being quite a long post (it was just bullet points last year!) As expected, I have benefited from the reflective process because I have clarified my targets and steps. A year from now, I hope to look back on these aims and reflect on my (hopefully significant) progress. If you have any suggestions or ideas that might help me on my way, please leave a comment below. I always appreciate your input.

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