Reminder: You can still register for my innovative and encouraging workshop for teachers that's taking place this week. It'll help move you from argh to agency in the all-important realm of student motivation. What are the best-leveraged ways to help our students want to do the work of learning? That's what we'll cover. It's gonna be fun — don't miss out! Register here.
I was corresponding with one of our colleagues these past couple days, Ms. Emily Brown, whom I had the privilege of meeting during an in-person workshop at the very start of summer. Emily is a head of school who has helped her school in Macon, GA, make the ***outstandingly wise*** decision to read and study and apply These 6 Things for the next ***couple years*** as a faculty.
I mean, I'm not.
I do think it's wise.
I think any time you get a whole secondary faculty to draw deep and long on a book aimed at helping teachers focus, that's great PD.
But you're not allowed to say that it's smart for folks to read your book, you know?)
The reason I bring Emily up is because at their back-to-school kickoff, her faculty is going to get some time to think on and answer two questions:
- What, in a single sentence, is your Everest this school year? If you had to boil down into a single sentence what you're hoping your class/classes/subjects produce in your students, what would that sentence be?
- (This exercise appears in the first chapter of These 6 Things. You can access the whole first chapter for free right here.)
- What one area of professional growth would you like to focus on this school year? This makes way for what I've previously called lumpy growth, and it's the most motivating method I'm aware of for growing in your expertise as a teacher.
(I actually made a short video for Emily and the team, which you can check out here so long as you forgive the fact that my Airbnb closet is wide open during it.)
Here's my point
I'd like to encourage you, colleague, to ask yourself these questions afresh as you enter in to a new year. Let me give you some ideas for each question.
The Everest Question
Here are some answers to the question I've heard from colleagues recently; keep in mind all of these are drafts:
- Music: Through teaching music and band, I can help my students become good citizens. “Good” meaning kind, responsible, problem solvers, and hard workers. — John Hawk, novice teacher in Arkansas
- Art: I hope my students experience the joy & benefits of experimenting while creating art and observe that there are multiple perspectives and ways to achieve an outcome. — Jen Swift, expert art teacher in Cedar Springs, MI
- Art: I hope my students are able to observe and draw what they actually see and not what they think things should look like. (I hope that they can transfer this concept to their lives and live more authentically and wholeheartedly.) — Jen Swift, expert art teacher in Cedar Springs, MI
- Agricultural Science: Develop leadership, life skills and career success through hands-on experiences, labs and trips that students would otherwise not experience at home. — Brent Willett, Ag Sci teacher in Cedar Springs, MI
- Spanish: I hope that students are able to see that learning a language is a pathway to better understanding others and themselves — to learn to communicate with others who may be different from them and who may see the world through a different lens allows them to understand the world at a deeper level. So, in sum… my class is for making an insane amount of errors while trying to make meaning in order to love and understand more people. — Amy Holmes, AP Spanish teacher in Cedar Springs, MI
- Science: To proficiently learn, explain, and apply science disciplinary core ideas while learning, practicing, and demonstrating science and engineering practices. — Steve Vree, science teacher
I could go on. I seriously love Everest sentences. Please send me your examples too! Along with what you teach and what name I can use when giving you credit. 🙂
The “Improve at One Thing” Question
I'm running out of words — remember, this August 2022 blog series is supposed to be brief! — so let me just say that this is a graphic I made recently for the student motivation book I'm working on. It's my contention that, while there are tons of things we can pick to improve upon as teachers, these are some of the areas that most impact our Credibility with students.
Until tomorrow, colleague.