One Year Later…

Right here, exactly a year ago, I enjoyed a catch-up phone call with my dear friend Tim.  Tim had just moved from LA up to San Francisco, and talked of his adventures and better fit in the new place.  Of myself, I told him that I was looking forward to the upcoming school year as a chance to make school my first priority – that I was going to take my job very seriously* and see what happened.  If I liked the results, I said, then that would solidify teaching as my career choice.  If I was not happy with that tack, I’d have to figure what to do instead.

The life experiment worked.  I find it hard to say that it was a great year, because neither my school, my community, nor the wider world have lacked adversity in the last twelve months.  But completely selfishly – and by the definition of the word meaning “unusual or considerable in degree” – I had a great year.  I learned, built community, had invigorating new experiences, and made some real progress toward understanding my own philosophy of education.

I watched my advisees of four years graduate, and I found out that my wife is pregnant.  I attended the Expeditionary Learning Schools National Conference (ELNC) in March and the Park City Math Institute (PCMI) in July.  I had some incredible, compass-orienting conversations with colleagues at these, at school and at Math for America.  I’m excited to continue to cultivate my new relationships.

I revised and reused a couple of projects, and clarified a lot of my thinking about how projects fit into my classroom.  I continued to develop my understanding of assessment and grading, and students responded well to this mastery-based approach.  I marveled at the predominantly peaceful, curious, and productive vibe in my classroom, and saw students spontaneously applaud an eye-opening mini-lesson that followed (rather than preceded) their individual exploration time.  I’m excited to continue to cultivate that vibe and learn what works.

I remain dissatisfied with plenty, and want to use the previous paragraphs as a chance to list what I need to think about in the coming weeks.  I love summer as a chance to think slowly, and boy, do I have a lot of thoughts to unpack.  This blog will be a place to do a lot of that unpacking.

A few weeks short of a year ago, another good buddy of mine got married, and Tim and I had a chance to catch up face to face.  On a morning jog, we talked about blogging and the role it can play in helping to process what goes on in our professional lives.  Both of us saw value in blogging in our various fields, and thought we’d give it a try.

Keeping a blog didn’t catch for me this year, but I’m willing to give it another try.  I think I have a better understanding of what it can be: a public journal and place to process the many thoughts that come with all that happens in school.  I’m excited to let this blog be messy.  This year I’m going to use it to throw some shit against the wall and see what sticks.

* Yes, I took my job seriously before.  I decided that, for the school year, I would put some other personal endeavors like music and reading piles of novels on hold.  I gained some neat insights about those things too, and I should probably write about those sometime.

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