It's that time of year again. Where my head is spinning, my to-do list is a mile long, and I can't focus on one thing for more than a few moments at a time, and I have trouble sleeping because of all of my nervous excitement and anticipation. Yep, it's the beginning of the year!
I actually love the beginning of a new school year. New students, new ideas, a fresh start, and the chance to dream and re-envision your classroom. I get so excited about all of the opportunities, it's hard to settle on just one or two! But, to help guide my thinking (and increase accountability), I'm going to post my four main goals for the school year here.
1. Gamify My Class! I have been working hard over the summer, with lots of great input and guidance from the #XPLAP crew, to design a year-long game for my middle level orchestra classes. They will be entering Ms. Yeh's Jedi Strings Academy, fighting against the dark side of poor musicianship, and trying to become Grand Masters of the Jedi Order. In order to do this, they will perform different musical tasks (playing tests, theory/culture/history research, teamwork in class, and some BreakoutEDU games I have developed) to grow in their skills, earn Galactic Credits (with which they can purchase things like "forgotten instrument passes"), and generally defeat the dark side! I have a lot of structures worked out, and I am SUPER excited about how engaging this will be for the kids! That being said, my goal is to actually implement it faithfully. I've had a lot of great ideas over the years that have gotten lost in the wind, and the daily grind of rehearsals, fixing instruments, traveling from school to school, etc. I want to actually follow through on this one!
2. Genius Hour, aka "Force Projects"! In going with our Star Wars theme, our genius hour projects will be called "Force Projects". This will be a chance for students to explore, create, and direct their own learning about any topic related to music! I have a couple of friends who are taking this on with me, and am excited to learn and grow together. I'm still wrapping my head around exactly how to present and facilitate this, but right now, I'm thinking that we will have "Force Day" every Wednesday (we have a late start & short classes on Wednesday, so it's a good time to do something different). For the first month or so, I want to focus on getting the kids to dream, think outside the box, brainstorm about possible topics, and find places where they can learn more. Then, I will probably set them free in using the time in whatever way they feel is best! I love the idea of blogging their adventures, but I'm still working with my administrators to determine a safe platform for doing this. I also love the idea of them reaching out to mentors to aid them in the process. Some of the teaching about how to blog & how to find a mentor will be built into our first month of brainstorming and thinking creatively. My biggest goal for our Force Projects is to encourage students to take charge of their own learning, and to step back and let them run with it. If you have any experience with Genius Hour, I would love to hear your top piece of advice!
3. Learn How to be a Principal! Okay, that sounds like a lofty goal, but I am working on my Principal's License right now, and it has been a grand adventure! If I've learned anything so far, I've learned that it is a fast-paced, unpredictable job. I have really enjoyed the time I have spent hanging out with the administration team at my school, and can't wait to learn more! My confidence in being a leader at school has really grown, which is great, but it also means I am saying "yes" to more leadership opportunities. This past week, I have been heavy on principal "stuff", so I haven't had as much time to focus on my classroom. My goal is do figure out a good balance of working with the administration team at my school to gain experience through my internship, but still keep my main focus on my classroom and my kids.
4. Balance! Last spring, I felt like I was in a really good place with home/school balance - I didn't bring much work home (although I do consistently lesson plan on the weekends), I kept up a great routine of going swimming before school 3x/week, and I felt like I had time to relax, hang out with friends, and serve in some cool ways at church. This year, I'm adding a Master's program & principal internship to the mix. Even though I know it will make me busier, my goal is to still make time for the important things of ME time, friend time, and exercise to maintain a good balance in my life!
Throughout the year, I will update on here about how my goals are going. What are your goals for this school year? How are you going to make it awesome for your students?