One of the great things about being a teacher includes the Christmas and New Year's holiday break. I admit that I do enjoy the opportunity to have this extra time planned in to my work year that I don't have to request off. I also admit that I use this time for almost entirely selfish reasons so that I may relax and enjoy the time away from my classroom. I use this time to watch movies, to read, to spend time with my family, and to just sit around and not worry about anything. My breaks are usually pretty glorious.
The start of the New Year always makes me reflect on my accomplishments and actions from the past year, and what I want to do differently or improve on for the next year. This year I am proud of the strides and attempts I have made to write more. Writing is something that I have always felt I could do, but never really put pen to paper and started actually doing it. If not for discovering the site Medium, I still might be sitting around just thinking about it. I am always proud of the amount of time and energy I put into being with my family, and I also look for ways to do more with them to be a better father and husband every day. Of all the things I do, those are the most important to me.
I also reflect on my professional life as an educator to evaluate what I thought went well in my classroom and what crashed and burned. I have been working with a digital classroom over the past year with varied success and failure. Whether I thought it was successful and my students thought it was a failure is sometimes a blurred line. Nevertheless, I do believe that the digital classroom is a positive feature and will continue to look for ways to enhance learning with technology. I also enjoyed the writing and blogging I introduced to my class this fall, but I do recognize that I need to make it a bigger focus each week and stay committed to writing in class.
I also had plans to implement a genius hour in class to allow the students the freedom to research and learn about topics that interest them and create something worth sharing with others. Due to some problems with equipment and such, this plan was delayed. After looking over the year, this probably couldn't have worked out better for my class. It takes about a semester to get in a good groove with our aquariums, so the Spring provides more freedom to work with the time provided in class. Genius Hour will be an activity we do each week in class this Spring. I cannot wait to see the work my students are able to produce when their mind is given the freedom to wander.
I look forward to this Spring semester because it gives me this opportunity to alter and enhance my original plans to finish the school year strong. Everything I do is to (hopefully) benefit my students and help them be successful after leaving my class. Not many professions give you the opportunity to have a fresh start twice during the year, but the education profession does. Take advantage of this to learn from your mistakes and build on your successes in order to make the second half of your year the best ever.