Personal Goals

I entered education because of the gap I saw between my education at Olin College and the typical high school learning experience.  I want to be a part of the solution by designing learning experiences that are engaging and purposeful while meeting the core content expectations of high school.  I hope to move forward with these goals on many levels:
  • Improve traditional math instruction:
    • I will continue to engage with my Department PLC in Byron to iterate on flipped and mastery-based instruction.  The model moves away from a teacher-directed environment to more self-paced, iterative learning for students that ensures that the key concepts are mastered.
    • I will further engage with the Math Twitter Blogosphere (#MTBoS) by joining the group Twitter conversations, commenting on my favorite blogs, blogging myself, and attending the annual Twitter Math Camp.  This group has an incredible understanding of effective math instruction in a traditional environment that fully engages students and puts key concepts first.
  • Improve non-traditional STEM experiences in Byron:
    • I will continue to support the expansion of the robotics program to make sure that students at all ages have an opportunity to participate in a FIRST-based program.  I will create systems to track student learning that would open the door to robotics-type experiences during the school day.  I will take specific actions to encourage students who are underrepresented in STEM fields to participate and support their engagement.
    • I will look outward, both online and in-person, at many charter schools and alternative models of subject-integrated STEM-based education.  I am seeking models that focus on design thinking as the glue that binds the STEM disciplines, the arts, and service learning into a powerful combination.
    • I will design new courses and programs with help from other Byron teachers, administrators, the school board, and students.
  • Become an effective leader in an innovative environment:
    • I will use this program as a launchpad to improve my teaching, connect with the people who will help me learn, and launch new ideas with feedback and support from my cohort.
    • I will use this program to start a path towards school leadership (potentially, but not necessarily, administration).

End-of-program goals reflection:

I believe that my goals are all still relevant, a positive thing that shows focus over an extended time.  My first goal was to improve traditional math instruction.  I don't think I am anywhere near where I want to be, but two years of teaching an intervention Algebra course has underscored the importance of relevant curriculum and multiple pathways that each demonstrate content mastery.  This course also led to more outreach to the MTBoS community (an open blog and Twitter-based group of math teachers) where I find great resources and amazing people to help me think through ideas.

My second goal: Improve non-traditional STEM experiences in Byron.  This took form as Grand Challenge Design, my year-long class focused on major world challenges and the internet of things (IoT) technologies.  This course wasn't even an idea when the program started.  Now, it has gone through many iterations with my first group of students.  There were many successes and twice as many failures.  With the help of my students, I am learning the technology, understanding what students care about, and figuring out how I can inspire students to do awesome things.  I explored grading and assessment, use of time, teams and individual work, and many other areas.  Everything about this course was highly influenced by the Innovative Instructional Leadership graduate work.  Beyond GCD, this goal also looked at robotics at all levels in Byron.  I helped to grant-fund and kickstart the FLL Jr. and FTC programs so that students of every age in Byron could engage in the fantastic FIRST robotics programs.  I also continue to actively volunteer with our FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) high school team.

My third goal was to become an effective leader in an innovative environment.  This is harder to measure.  My role as a teacher in GCD and mentor in robotics both involve significant leadership in a rapidly changing environment, and in both roles, I continue to improve.  I also received a full week in Spring 2016 to expand my skills as a teacher and school leader by observing teachers in some of the most innovative schools across Southern California.  I visited High Tech High, Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, and a number of amazing schools in the Bay area, posting summaries and reflections to my blog.  I learned so much during that short trip, and I continue to come to new insights from those observations.  I plan to continue to look outward and learn through observation of others around me.  I don't think I want to go into administration, but I do want to be in a role where I have significant responsibility and can lead peers while remaining in the classroom.
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