Question 1: During the first face to face we used the language of Urgent vs Important to help frame our discussions and thinking around the use TIME. Reflect on why you joined Cohort 21 and your professional goals for this year. Now that the year has begun and you have met your students what IMPORTANT goal might you like to address and leverage this community to get support with.
I joined Cohort 21 for two reasons.
Reason #1: I left the world of teaching for 5 years, and recently decided to re-enter the classroom in March of 2021. My skills needed updating, and my need for a community of practice grew.
Reason #2: The need for diversity and inclusion in the classroom continues to intensify, and I want to be an effective model for my students on how we think about various cultures, backgrounds and other factors that help make up this beautiful mosaic of humans across the globe.
As September came, and October flew by, I realized that I lost a bit of sight in those two goals. With 120 students, my goal in those months was to re-learn time management, documentation strategies for students of large numbers, parent communications…the list felt endless. To top it off, I spent hours on lesson plans to make sure that each was highly engaging. When I started the school year, I took a very microscopic view of each teaching task. I felt like my mind was being pulled in multiple directions, and I was taking two steps back with every step forward. I felt like I completely abandoned my goals, and was pretty hard on myself for it.
There is definitely still much to learn in those areas, but after parent-teach conferences a few weeks ago, I do feel like my brain finally has some space now to appreciate how my original goals actually will help me manage my time, document strategies and interact with parents. In hindsight, a macroscopic view of my goals would have allowed me to realize that all of these tasks were actually smaller components of those two goals and the reasons for my joining Cohort 21. Taking a step back from the busyness of it all has allowed me to realize how much growth myself and my students have had in just 2 months.
To me, the key to understanding what is urgent versus what is important lies in goal setting or what we as teachers call “backwards design”. Setting daily, weekly and long-term goals have helped me tremendously. If my tasks don’t ladder into my goals for the day, week or term, they fall to the bottom of the priority list. I’ve also learned to take this same approach to lesson planning – there are SO MANY cool science experiments and lessons that I want to try with my kids. But, if they don’t ladder up to the overall learning objectives for the week, then those other fun activities will have to wait.
Question 2: Which of the Season 10 Strands did you choose and why? Share what you feel is both urgent and important about it for you and your school at the moment and some of the questions you have around moving forward.
Growing up, I frequently felt like an outsider reading textbooks, watching movies and getting introduced to case studies that involved people who did not look like me. As such, I always struggled to A) find meaningful connections to my learning and B) visually see what I would become as a working adult. This lack of representation impacted my self-esteem too. If people like me weren’t portrayed as leaders, or were not at the forefront of big discoveries, then what was there for me to do?
In my previous working experiences, I tried to find roles that allowed me to create content catered to audiences of underrepresented groups. From those experiences, it was amazing to see how excited students and parents were when they saw themselves in the content. For example, I worked on a workshop that taught students how to code an anti-cyberbullying machine on Scratch. Our goal as an organization was to get more girls excited about coding. A parent of a child who took the workshop came up to us after explaining how excited her daughter was because one of the main characters used in our marketing materials for the workshop included a girl that had beautiful, natural and braided hair – a girl that looked just like her. After that, I became passionate about the role of representation when it comes to access to new and prevalent opportunities. Ensuring representation in the classroom has become my professional goal as a teacher. So, I chose to pursue the DEIJ strand of Cohort 21. At our school, our goal is to determine what the DEIJ gaps are within our community. Understanding those gaps will help us focus our efforts in understanding what is urgent and important as we continue to bring DEIJ into each classroom.
Here are some of the materials we have posted or held in our classroom so that students are reminded of their impact in the science community 🙂