Daily Archives: January 1, 2012

Resolution: Happy New Year!

My beginning J kids often try to start their stories with a definition and I make them come up with a new beginning because the definition lead is so cliche, but this post needs the definition lead, so here goes:

res·o·lu·tion[rez-uh-loo-shuhn]
noun
1. a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature, a club, or other group. Compare concurrent resolution, joint resolution.
2. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.
3. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
4. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.
5. the act or process of resolving or separating into constituent or elementary parts.

The last two months have been a time of change for DH and I. We made a decision to change some foundations in our lives and that hasn’t been easy. Work has been stressful, and I forgot how to embrace the fun of that stress. Writing has been almost non-existent. I’ve decided to venture into the business world and will be meeting with the small business development center to help with that process. And I want to get actively involved in real school reform.

Resolution in any of the above isn’t always easy. All of the above should be less intense. Let go, let God. I know that. But as always, I struggle. Since the first of our life changes deals with church, for some reason it’s a little easier to believe absolutely that He’ll take care of us. The job should be easy, too. I mean, after 17 years, I should know how to let go. But it’s harder this year than it’s ever been. The writing issue is an easy resolution. New words every day. The new business: definitely a let go and let God proposition. I’ve done my market research, I have my mission, vision, values and goals, at least for the short term. The school reform, that’s a passion of mine. Two things I can work on non-stop for hours: The First Amendment and Effective Schools. The problem with wanting to put school reform into effect is I’m a teacher, and teachers can only do so much. In a perfect world, I could have a small test group of students and we’d radically change the business of education. We’d do away with grades and go to a strict mastered objectives (pass) or not (red0) system. Right now we have this Focus on Learning mantra, but in reality, most of the students and their parents care about the grade and not the learning. If the kid brings home straight As, yay! If they make a B or C, but they learned more because they’re in more challenging classes, dump the more challenging course work and get back to the A. The 4.0, or 5.0 in my school’s case, is all that matters. If you strip grades would students still work to master the objectives and be able to prove that mastery on an exam and with their writing? Could teachers use formative assessment without attaching grades to those assessments and still have a real idea of where their students are performing? Could students take responsibility for those objectives and realistically judge their progress on the road to mastery? Would stripping grades and changing to pass (mastered objectives), redo (didn’t) get the focus back on learning instead of grades, which don’t mean anything really? At the end of the year would this shift translate into higher scores on summative exams? Would having a system like this which addresses the questions of what to do when kids don’t learn AND what to do when they’ve already mastered the objective make for a better system? Would parents and students embrace this?

Yeah…like I said, it’s on my mind a lot.

I looked into going back for my EdD and moving into the effective schools consulting direction, but my students are what I love most about my job. Same thing for shifting into administration.

The reality is my job is going away. The whole focus on grades means the students I used to get are picking up an extra 5.0 class or two, and they don’t want the responsibility of deadlines. Something has to change or my program is going to die. I can’t change deadlines: I’m a journalism teacher. I can’t change the workload of the class: we produce awesome newspapers and yearbooks.

Yet another area I have to let go and let God, however, I can resolve to at least attempt to keep the program going.

So there you go. My resolutions this year are pretty close to what they were last year: learn to let go and let God and be the best I can be at what I do every day. And, of course, I’ll be working on the weight thing because I always am!

My new youtube vlog. Not sure if this is the ultimate narcissism or super cool. Going to do it anyway. 🙂