We traditionally set goals at the 'beginning of the year' - either in September when we write our Annual Learning Plans or in January in the form of new year resolutions. At these times, we set goals because it is traditional. How helpful is this? Are goals set at these times actually useful? Do we ever spend any time reevaluating these goals? Are the goals we set in September relevant today? Can we actually remember them?
Maybe this is the perfect time to set some goals. We our coming up to our first significant break in the school year. What has been learned so far? How have priorities changed? Are we reflecting at all on our current journey.
To be very honest, I haven't been doing this, I feel like I am too caught up in the day to day. I think it is best now at this time to ask what is really important? What do I really care about? For me, it is family and I expect it is for most of us. Who is away from home? Who is ill? Who are we out of contact with? Have we reflected on the relationships we have with our family members? Is there any energy that needs to be put into these relationships? For me at this time of year this is my focus.
I am mindful of the fact that I need to do my best everyday to be a leader within my school community. I am mindful that this is taking a great deal of energy and I need time to rest and generate more energy. I am aware that the rest of the staff is probably feeling the same way so I need to be more aware of how they are doing every day. In essence, most of my goals right now center around people - my family and the staff, students and parents in our school community. Not a bad idea to reflect this time of year and see what is most important. Day to day, this should be a focus of our actions.
Does this mean I don't have any academic goals? Not at all. These days, I am thinking a lot about what is the best model for innovation and professional learning. I am seeing great examples of teacher collaboration all over the School Board. For example - last weekend over one hundred people took part in the second Ottawa Edcamp. This was a great way to meet people and learn about what people are doing to innovate and create. Out of this, I was able to get involved in a great blog that is highlighting the creative work of the teachers in our Board.
The blog - OCSB Learning Community is just starting out. It is very much a grassroots project designed to share ideas on cool projects taking place in the classroom. It is a little like a virtual Educamp. In our school, I am trying to feature some of the new learning that our teachers are involved in - I think it is essential that their creative work is publicized.
These informal collaborations are very exciting. More and more educators are taking charge of their own professional learning. Steven Katz writes about the importance of educators becoming actively engaged in risk-taking. Teachers now are more willing to take chances - as Katz writes, "Real new learning opportunities...require that we make ourselves vulnerable and that we are explicit about what we don't know and need to understand." (Katz, Intentional Interruptions pg. 46) This is what we see as more teachers write and publically explore new ideas. My goal is to keep learning what our teachers are doing. Their work is very exciting - I am learning lots every day! As a leader, I want to be part of this exciting trend. I want to participate with teachers in the formal and informal professional learning that Katz sees as so important to real professional learning.