I cannot state how excited I am for the start of this school year. There is something magical in the air at Gator Run Elementary that is telling me that this will be the best school year ever. I rolled out my opening day Faculty Focus to my teachers on Monday morning. The energy that I receive from my staff on a regular basis is invigorating and this week that has multiplied.
My theme for this year and beyond is “What if We Could?”. In the past I have always asked “what if” questions to my staff to cause outside and inside the box thinking. I am always questioning past practices in education not just because I like to be a rebel (well, maybe a little), but because we should always question if what we are doing can be done in a better way. I liked asking “what if” questions but never really felt like all the changes that we need were being put into practice.
So this year I changed my message to “What if We Could?” because to me the addition of “We Could..” puts the emphasis on action. That we can make happen what we dream, what we wish, and what we hope. And that’s what we need to do in education. It’s time to stop wishing for change and to start making it happen right now. We don’t need to wait for anyone outside of our profession, outside of our schools, to make necessary changes. We need to be the ones to make the change. When you have ideas on how to innovate to help make kids’ lives better, than ask yourself and your colleagues, “What if We Could?”. Because you have the power to do so. We have this power. “What if We Could?” – We can! We must! We will!
So where do we start? How about with Day 1?
- What if we could…build amazing relationships with our students?
- Know their names (and how to pronounce them!). Please read this amazing post by Jennifer Gonzalez, @cultofpedagogy – Gift of Pronunciation
- Present your best lesson on Day 1; worry about rules and procedures later. Make students want to come back for more!
- Make every child feel like your favorite.
- We have to change the world moment by moment – take advantage of this power and change each child’s life for the better.
- What if we could…build amazing relationships with each other and learn from one another?
- Be kind to one another each and every day. Love your colleagues!
- Visit each other’s classrooms – the Pineapple Chart hack from the book, Hacking Education, is an amazing idea that should be implemented in all schools. Visit each others’ classrooms and open your own for your colleagues. We are not teaching in isolation anymore. I recommend having your school team read Hacking Education by the aforementioned Jennifer Gonzalez and Mark Barnes, @markbarnes19.
- What if we could…continue to share the awesome with our families and the world?
- If we don’t share the amazing things happening in our schools, there is a chance that no one will.
- What if…each teacher Tweeted one thing from their classroom every day using a school hashtag and spent 5 minutes reading other posts? Thanks to George Couros, @gcouros, for this one.
- What if we could…start with the standards, focus on learning, and not get caught up on ‘cute’?
- Love this quote from the Kids Deserve It book –“We can’t get caught up in how much fun something looks if learning doesn’t also take place.” Thanks to Todd Nesloney, @techninjatodd, and Adam Welcome, @awelcome, for an inspiring read!
- We need to move away from copying from the board and filling in the blanks. If the end result of your activity is that all students have the exact same product, you taught a recipe, not a lesson. If you want cute, have the students create the cute rather than purchasing it for them.
- What if we could…ensure that each of our students is excited to come to school every day?
- Our goal must be to move from consumption to creation, with and without technology. A digital worksheet is still just a worksheet.
- What if we could…provide our students the opportunity to discover their passions?
- Genius Hour and Makerspaces must be in all schools so that we can offer voice and choice to our students.
- What if we could…lift up our profession?
- Promote the awesome – #trendthepositive and #CelebrateMonday. Kudos to my friend Sean Gaillard, @smgaillard, for creating and sharing these amazing hashtags.
- What if we could…have every teacher identify areas where they wanted to grow and worked with an administrator or coach to improve?
- The message in all schools for students and adults must be – Feedback, Support and Growth
- What if we could…get all of our students to Launch?
- Provide students with opportunities to Launch – to create something that they can share with the world? If you haven’t read Launch by AJ Juliani, @ajjuliani, and Jon Spencer, @spencerideas, go get it now and start reading!
- Our students are creating and performing every day outside of school. How are we leveraging that and allowing them those types of opportunities at school?
- What if we could…be the school that changes what ‘school’ is?
- Repeat after me – “We can, we must, we will!”