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Imagining the First Day of the Best Year Yet

It's coming.

Tomorrow as a matter of fact.

Some of you have started already, you may even be into the routine, but for me, school doesn't start until after Labor Day.

The blank canvas is a beautifully overwhelming expanse. Much like the school dreams that have threatened my sleep as of late, there is much possibility and potential.

Remembering my early years, not knowing what to expect, I firmly cling to the amazing experiences I have developed over the last 13 years. There is still so much that can offer surprise, but that is what I love about teaching; it never gets boring.

Each year since the beginning of my career different challenges have unearthed themselves, but with the help of my students, colleagues, and friends, I've managed to navigate them in ways that have made me a better person and teacher.

Much in the same way we expect students to explore and discover the world around them, I have made it my mission to lead by example, awkwardly making mistakes, admitting them and learning from them. 

My beliefs about education have changed too. In the past, I was vehemently attached to the idea of justice and kids being treated equally. Lateness was not tolerated. Grades were of the utmost of importance and kids who took the initiative to do extra credit received it.

Man, was I wrong about all of that. Equal means all kids get what they need and that is NOT the same and may not be equal. Learning happens at different paces and therefore expecting kids to reach the same proficiency at the same time is unfair. We need to be flexible and this year, I intend to be.

Achievement has to do with proficiency and mastery of skills, not grades. The grades are just a means of communicating and often don't do the best job in that communication. Too often, kids are obsessed with their grades and not with actual learning. This year, conversations and understanding of achievement will be a priority despite the discomfort it may cause.

Extra credit dirties the water. Doing more or helping out, doesn't actually show what students know and can do and therefore it has no place in education. Kids need to keep getting more practice to show mastery, but grades or value shouldn't be a part of that experience.

This year is going to be a learning experience for everyone. Since the students will have a large say in what happens in the classroom, their input is paramount to our shared experience. I'm not afraid to take the risks and then reflect and adjust accordingly.

Here's to the hope of the blank canvas being filled with authentic learning.

What will your canvas look like?  Please share

*This post originally ran on my Eduacation Week Teacher blog Work in Progress on 9/1/14

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2 Kommentare

Unknown member
08. Aug. 2019

This looks amazing, Julie. I've been thinking about you and your family a lot. Thank you so much for sharing your pictures and thoughts.

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julie mcgahan
julie mcgahan
08. Aug. 2019

I have found a blank canvas in Costa Rica, where each moment dictates a new learning and sets a standard without any expectations being set by others....just a lot of here and now...and a LOT of wow! And the only expectation is that everything is a new learning experience. Divine learning! Visited this school today: Del Mar Academy 💜

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