It is my absolute pleasure to be a part of the Virtual Mentoring program (#savmp) and our first "assignment" this week was to write about why we lead and why we are educators.
In 2009, a colleague of mine was doing a doctoral study on how kids consumed different types of text. He used my students as a part of his research as well as many other students at our school. When he completed his observations of all of our students and gathered data, he came up with many conclusions including one he shared with me:
"Andrew, your students were doing things that none of the other students could do. The skills and content they learned in your class were just at a different level."
I knew then that I could impact people in a way that made a difference. While every teacher plays an important role in shaping the skills and content that kids absorb, we only teach what we know. But we produce who we are. Since that time, I have used my platform as a teacher to try to make a difference, however large or small, in the lives of my students. "Be the Difference," will one day be an answer to the question, "Why I lead..."
Until then, I am soaking in every lesson that this profession affords me and seeking out any advice and experiences I can gain in my district and through my PLN. Without that process though, I cannot progress as a leader. Processing the "process" is how we grow.
With that, I am setting three professional goals for myself this year:
1. Be consistent with my digital presence inside and outside the classroom.
After our school went 1:1 last year, each teacher tackled digital education with a different level of ferocity. Because my class was already running from a digital platform, I added a few new wrinkles but did not fully commit to every digital tool when it made sense. That changes this year.
I also began a professional twitter account and began to build my digital footprint. However, as the constraints of life and my job pulled on my focus, I lost the consistency that any digital leader needs. I sometimes went weeks without tweeting, checking twitter, participating in discussions, or sharing links. That changes this year.
2. Build on a culture of success and take it another step forward.
In my two years as our Advanced Placement US History teacher, we have made groundbreaking improvements on our student outcomes and test scores. 46 of my 48 students in the last two years have earned college credit because of their relentless work ethic and commitment to the class. Last year, our class average was 4.33, with 23 of our 24 students receiving a 4 or 5. We work in a profession that raises the bar year after year. This year, our goal as a class is to have every student receive a 4 or 5, virtually guaranteeing each student 6 college credits before they even choose their university. Wouldn't that be awesome?
3. Make what I am doing the most important thing in the world.
A former coach of mine used to say, "When you are at practice, practice should be the most important thing in the world to you. When you aren't at practice, it falls way down the list of things that are important in your life."
I want to apply this philosophy towards the many hats I will wear this year. When I am in the Dean's office, I want that job to be the most important thing in the world to me. I want to help kids understand how important their decisions are in life and how they impact others. When I am teaching, I want to make my students the most important thing in the world to me. I want to make myself available as much as I can to ensure their success in my class and in life. And when I am home, being a husband, son, and father (in January) will be the most important thing in the world to me. I want to focus on today and putting 100% of myself into today. Just today. And then tomorrow, I want to get up and do it all over again.
Those are my personal and professional goals for the 2013. Have a great school year everyone.