Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Begin with Purpose!

"Annnnd---We're off!"   That was one of my mother's favorite announcements.  Great were the preparations, and finally we would jump in the car and hit the road.  Going....wherever.  Daily, we heard that proclamation. It represented the difficult task of actually commencing whatever was planned.  Here we are with a new year.  A clean slate and another try. Dare I ask..."What are we contemplating, planning, or purposing to do differently this year?"   

Every year I worked, I would contemplate and set a goal.  Usually this happened in September, but September gets crowded out with tyranny of the new year and lost in the school year rush.  I found January was a better time to make educational resolutions. If your December life was so oppressed with "Holidayitis"  (or, hollerday-itis), may I offer up a few suggestions to freshen up your program? Listed below are a few ideas to infuse innovation and offer the unexpected to your colleagues.:

  • Purpose in your heart to deliver end-of-year awards to faculty members (at an otherwise dull meeting) awards for: *Innovator Award for ...The Most Innovative New Research Unit; *Bravery Award-for working out-of-their-comfortzone; *Gallant Knight Award for a new untenured teacher who left the silo embracing a research endeavor; *Lighthouse Award given to the teacher who unexpectedly inspired reading in their students (gym teacher? art teacher?)  You get the picture.  These awards will give public Kudos to peers and perhaps spotlight strategic library partners. These will be awards that can go into "evidence binders" and demonstrate exemplary educational habits.  Why not try? 
  • Take first step towards "Inquiry" with teachers who otherwise have flat fact-based "research" projects.  Getting teachers to recognize the value of asking an Essential Question, or an "Umbrella Question" which requires students to synthesize real meaning in their facts is the first step of evolving a flat-fact-based project into something that requires a conclusion based upon evidence (i.e. information) and this supports preparation for most standardized tests...BTW.  An example for baiting the hook would be our current hoopla over the growing El Nino.  EQ: How will our area be affected by the growing El Nino?
    Make and evidence-based-claim (EBC) and support your view with evidence.  Or, pick where you will live....and research from that area's perspective. Prepare to convince me with evidence. Present your conclusions in any media format (Green Screen Newscast? Scientific Chart mode?, etc.) With this approach, your students could even reflect on this in June to see of their predictions came true.  This is a great real-life alternative to "disaster reports".                                                                
Picture adapted from Jane Martellino's GreenScreen projects. click
Jane is the elementary librarian at Bethlehem Elementary in Bethlehem, Ct.  
See her other green screen projects at this link:  click 
  • Reading Mix-up -  The brain is stimulated by change.  Why not surprise your students and mix up the locations of reading shelves, collection, or genres after a vacation?  On one superintendent's day, my principal asked whether I had anything for all the para-professionals to do while teachers were attending in-house training.  We jumped at the opportunity and resolved our entire fiction section in one day.  Now, you don't have to do something so big, but you could create a new "Spotlight Shelf."  Or, a "Page-Turner Shelf" something to inspire your readers.  You get the idea... brainstorm a change you can handle.  Down with the status-quo. 

As with any "resolution," the maker must resolve, or purpose, to succeed. An idea is great, but if not acted upon, or unaccompanied by commitment, it remains an idea.  Why not purpose, commit, plan, take steps, and succeed?  We can do it. You can make a difference.

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