Tomorrow is the first day of school. I’ve been thinking about my goals for the year. In doing so, I realized those two statements I posted are actually my goals for the year – be prepared & be present. For me being prepared means knowing the mathematical goals of each lesson – crafting the right questions, designing meaningful activities, structuring the class to allow each student access to the concepts, … Being present to me means to be totally focused in the moment and what is going on in the classroom – despite what else may be going on in my life. The students deserve my full attention, so when I walk through those doors and the bell for each period rings – everything else fades away.
I’ve also been contemplating Bud Hunt’s “Open Letter to Teachers”. I’ve read it a few times now. What struck me most was his line, “Try very hard not to work all the time.” I don’t think I did a very good job of that last year. So I’m extending my “be present” goal to my time away from school. I’m starting a grad school program next month, so I know finding a balance will be vital. I need to create a time each day to turn off Jackie the teacher and Jackie the student and just be. I think my husband will thank me too.
Lastly, I just ran across these 10 Commandments for Teachers written by Pólya:
- Be interested in your subject.
- Know your subject.
- Know about the ways of learning: The best way to learn anything is to discover it by yourself.
- Try to read the faces of your students, try to see their expectations and difficulties, put yourself in their place.
- Give them not only information, but “know-how,” attitudes of mind, the habit of methodical work.
- Let them learn guessing.
- Let them learn proving.
- Look out for such features of the problem at hand as may be useful in solving the problems to come – try to disclose the general pattern that lies behind the present concrete situation.
- Do not give away your whole secret at once – let the students guess before you tell it – let them find out by themselves as much as is feasible.
- Suggest it, do not force it down their throats.
I really like the part about “give them habits of mind”. That is such an important piece, the ability to think about one’s thinking.
And thus the year begins. I’m looking forward to it.