Good Endings = Great Beginnings

Photo credit: prodigy130

I’ve always struggled with the professional goal we have to set at the beginning of the year.  As the year gets going and we fly into the highest gear, my mind is hardly on what I can to do grow as a teacher and much more on surviving the fast pace of my busy job.  That isn’t to say that I don’t find ways to grow each year, but I find that these opportunities emerge organically as the year progresses.

Having found this new calling…blogging, tweeting, sharing, learning…I’m feeling super psyched to start next year with my PD goals already set.

Goal #1: Blog once a week.  Even if my ramblings are interesting or useful to no one but me, they will help me to reflect on my work and learn how to teach my students to blog about their work in math.

Goal#2: Share on twitter.  It’s scary to put yourself out there, but I’m going to do it anyway.  If I’m going to embrace my inner amateur, I must behave like one.  Try new things.  Await feedback or not.  This must be what it’s like for our students to turn in work and wait for our grades/feedback/criticism.  Empathy for them = Better teacher.

Goal #3: Learn from twitter.  Following colleagues out there in the twittersphere has already, in just two weeks, added to my toolbox of teaching tricks.  I’m blown away by all the great teaching and learning that is happening out there.

Goal #4: Get better at giving positive feedback.  Math teachers are really good at marking answers right or wrong, and of course, it’s easy to praise our top students.  But what about those students who struggle with the subject.  How can I learn to praise them for their efforts, to encourage them to continue (or start) to work hard, to find value in the work of even the weakest students?  I will begin this journey by commenting on blogs as I read them and thanking people for their shares.

Goal #5: Stay in touch with Tricia Friedman, my mentor and guide on this journey, whether she likes it or not.  Though she’s leaving our school, I know she’s only a tweet away.  She has inspired every one of these goals, and I suspect she will continue to find ways to inspire me even though she’ll be half a world away.  Please check out her blog and follow her on twitter.

I’m ending this year with all of these goals already in motion; that’s a good thing. I have a feeling that next year will be great.

Thank you Flicker, Creative Commons, and prodigy130 for the photo and Goal #6: learn how to properly give credit where credit is due.


4 thoughts on “Good Endings = Great Beginnings

  1. Valerie,
    You are amazing. I’m really honored via your shout out–and I hope you know I’ve benefited every bit as much from our chats. Re: Goal #5–you know I’ll be connecting with you, and keeping you in my ‘virtual staff room’ for keeps. I have to say I’m so impressed with the dedication you’ve had to your blog, and the blogger you’ve become in such a short period of time.

    You’ve also reminded me that now…not August, but right now is the best time to think about goals. To tie those goals to our biggest wonderings at this apex feels so much more authentic. Instead of hitting the refresh button, maybe teachers should try to create that ‘cliff hanger’ feeling (think like a Netflix drama writer)…?

    Basically, instead of ‘counting down,’ you are saying–I’m excited for what’s next. It isn’t about limping to the finish line—it is about making an scenic switch-back whilst enjoying the view. Wow…I just freestyled right there in your comment box!

    Thank you, for showing me that the connection between colleagues is where the best PD seeds get planted. We are each other’s gardens.
    Warm regards,


  2. Valerie
    Wow…I was just thinking about this – and my goal for next year arose “organically” from my professional goal this year (which was itself, ill defined, however well intentioned).

    “Opportunities emerge organically as the year progresses.” Indeed. I would also like to incorporate this idea in Summative assessments- collecting kids ideas which arise during the unit.

    There is this idea that we can set a precise goal and have it remain crystal clear and workable the whole year.
    As if.
    Your 5 goals listed make it possible for growth – no matter what happens.


    1. “I would also like to incorporate this idea in Summative assessments- collecting kids ideas which arise during the unit.” Such a good idea. What an interesting challenge to find ways to make this happen. My students are currently working on their summative assessment for the unit circle unit. I’ve made it really open-ended–teach a lesson on a topic related to the unit circle (with options to choose from)–and they are asking and answering some fantastic questions.

      John, are you on twitter? I assume you have some great things to share, too, but am not sure where to find you.


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