Monday, June 18, 2007

It may be over, but it doesn't end

School years are about traditions, either breaking them or honoring them. Tomorrow night the class of 2007 graduates on the steps of town hall, overlooking the town Green. It's a special tradition that helps link school and community. Another annual rite is the year-end reflective essay intended to detail our personal thoughts on how we believe we achieved our goals and/or grew professionally. This year's version, like the last seven, covered several of the same topics - evaluating my overall effectiveness in class, grappling with authentic assessments, learning new things.

Learning new things.

When I got to that point in the essay - as I'm typing it out with Microsoft Word - I stopped to think just how much I had learned this school year. First of all, my goals did not include anything even in the same neighborhood as using 21st Century tools. I hadn't a clue what they were in September. But there I was in front of my computer screen, sifting through a public record of my professional growth from October on. How could I jam all that into a reflective essay that I didn't want to be much more than three or so pages? Should I just repeat some of the public thinking that occurred in this space? Maybe this is one tradition that needs to evolve or - dare I say - shift?

The idea of writing a reflective essay seemed a bit contrived. Haven't I been reflecting here for the last seven months? Afterall, it was this blog that helped me discover the potential and possibilities for blogging and using wikis in the classroom. It was here that I connected with some outstanding educational leaders who assisted in my professional growth. And it is here that there is a record of that learning journey.

We talk about teachers modeling learning for their students. Well here it is. And I want my students to experience that same feeling of finding and learning something new and valuable. I know blogs can play a part in that. I caught a glimpse of it this year. So did the students. In fact, the students, much like me, were also asked to write a reflective say about what they learned using the blogs. They did a wonderful job, and you can read all about it here. I, too, hope to be able to say more on this experience, maybe as I get closer to fully synthesizing it in my brain and I begin to apply it to next year's instructional planning. The next logical step for me is setting up a collaborative venture with some other teachers out there. Maybe this could be the start of a new tradition in the high school. I intend to use this space to help me think out loud as I plan for next year. Whenever that is.

Anyway, graduation night is tomorrow and our last day is Wednesday. Because of the finals schedule, I haven't had kids since last Friday. This week is about getting my grades in and putting some things in order at work. One thing I've neglected is this blog, which does bother me. It's not like there's nothing to share. My brain is just a little fried.

So thanks to everyone who has helped me this year. I think I'm ready to graduate into year two of web 2.0 teaching.