Sunday, September 4, 2011

Keeping an Eye on the Road Ahead: Professional Learning Goals

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow.   Learn as if you were to live forever."  Mahatma Gandhi 

It's been a great first two weeks of school, but it has been all I can do to keep up with my colleagues on Twitter.  Additionally, reading and commenting on blogs --- let alone posting --- has been virtually impossible (yes, that was my attempt at cyber-humor this morning).  All I have been able to manage is an occasional glance at my Twitter feed or a quick read of a post on my phone in small snippets of time I have found.  Donalyn Miller uses books for her emergencies, I use my phone (it has my books, blogs, Twitter colleagues, etc. always at my fingertips).

In the midst of the first days of madness I caught snippets of this Twitter conversation between Michelle Nero (@litlearningzone) and Laura Komos (@komos72):

Being a person who loves "a challenge" and a bit of #cyberPD, I thought I'd add my post to this conversation which began at Laura's Camp Read-A-Lot, The Big Picture for 2011-2012.  Here Laura shares her goals for the upcoming school year in a post written to help her stay accountable to them.  I'm a bit nervous about posting my goals so publicly as I know there will be no turning back.  I considered making my goals:  eat more cookies, sleep in on the weekends, give up laundry, but I knew you wouldn't buy any of that.  

So falling to peer pressure, here are a few of my goals for the coming school year:

Professional Learning Goals:
In an effort to continue to grow as an educator I think it is necessary to read, interact, and share our learning beyond our classrooms.  In these tough times for public education, I want to be more "transparent" (not a fan of the word, but it works here) in all that I believe about education.  It is important to maintain our professional lives and share them with the public so they move beyond the notions of education predominately shared in the media (stepping off soapbox...oops).  

Currently, I am reading Kassia Omohundro Wedekind's book, Math Exchanges, published by Stenhouse (and, I believe, now available).  This blog will be one of the stops on Kassia's blog tour.  I'm looking forward to talking with Kassia about her book (and hopefully getting a few answers about my math workshop).  

In October, I will be attending the Columbus Area Writing Project's Fall Conference:  Writing and Reading Our 21st Century Lives.  At the conference, I will be joining Julie Johnson to share ways literacy is moving beyond our classroom walls.  In October, I'm also considering attending the Literacy Connection's session with Troy Hicks and OCTM's conference in Toledo.

In November, I will be attending NCTE's conference in Chicago:  Reading the Past, Writing the Future.  Love, love, love this conference!  Like Laura, I have to pay for this conference myself --- and use personal days (ouch!), but it is always worth it.  This conference always energizes my teaching and thinking.  I'm really looking forward to presenting with Katie Keier and Julie Johnson (ok, not the presenting part, but the working with friends part) in our session:  Beyond Classroom Walls:  Honoring Voices of Young Readers in the 21st Century. 

In February, I will be attending Dublin's Literacy Conference.  Going to conferences can be EX-PEN-SIVE!  I love this conference as it is reasonably priced and full of great speakers and learning conversations.  This year's list looks exciting with picture book authors Bob Shea & Eric Litwin (Pete the Cat!), and professional authors Ruth Ayers and Donalyn Miller among the many sharing their thinking with us.  If you are within driving distance (even if you're not), I highly recommend a trip to Ohio (in the snow and cold) to attend.

On the TBR professional list:  Comprehension Going Forward, Write Like This, So What Do They Really Know?, Investigate the Number System.

Twitter, Twitter, Twitter.  I will never be able to articulate all I learn, all the professional development opportunities I find, all the conferences I stalk, or all of the great thinking shared here.  Just know I am trying to find a way to be sure to keep up with it all.

Reading and Commenting on Blogs:  During the summer I tried to make it my goal to comment on at least 3 blogs per day (ok, some days it didn't happen).  I am pretty sure I can't keep that pace during the school year.  My goal is to comment on at least 10 posts per week (for those of you that like math, that is likely going to be 3 each day of the weekend and 1 each evening --- with a day off).

Blogging:  At least once a week I will share something I've been thinking about in teaching children.  Yes, I'm going to make it a priority to go back to posting at least once a week.  There, I said it.

Writing:  While I am on the subject and just making myself accountable for things, let's talk about writing.  I do believe being a writer (in any terms) is important to teaching writers.  I've been struggling a bit to get back into my writing routines...ok, I've been struggling a lot.  The weekly blogging goal is an attempt to fix this as is my commitment to writing weekly.  (Still debating on whether to set the goal by words per day/week or minutes per day/week.  Pondering - and taking suggestions.)

Classroom Goals
While I am throwing it all out here, I might as well add classroom goals.  However, I need a bit of time to get those thoughts into an organized list.  So in the coming days, I will post my goals for my classroom.  I think you'll see they are tied to the above professional learning goals.

"I'm a big believer in growth. Life is not about achievement, it's about learning and growth, and developing qualities like compassion, patience, perseverance, love, and joy, and so forth. And so if that is the case, then I think our goals should include something which stretches us." Jack Canfield


  1. Love this post and eagerly await reading about your classroom goals. After reading P. Allen's book, Conferring, and following the cyber discussion, I am refocusing attention to this critical and personal time of our reading morning. I spent yesterday previewing (and ordering) Math Exchanges. This is a glimpse into my classroom goals - now I'm committed! ;-)

  2. You continue to be an inspiration. Not sure if I'll post my goals right now, but many mirror yours. Couldn't agree with you more about how important it is to be continually learning. That's why I'm so fortunate you're part of my PLN!!

  3. So excited to read about your goals and thinking. I am super impressed and it really helps me with my continued learning! I am thankful that I able to be a part of your PLN.

  4. Thanks for writing about your goals for the year, and inspiring me to start articulating mine. I have them swimming around in my head, but getting them down on (virtual) paper is a great way to refine them.
    Glad Math Exchanges can be a part of your thinking this year! And I think you'll love Investigate the Number System. Wonderful resources.

  5. I'm happy to be a part of your inspiration for posting your goals! :) Yours reminded me of so many that I forgot to include. That is one of the many reasons I value this Twitter PLN of ours!

    I've talked to Nicole (@ohionicole) about it already but your mention of it really makes me want to take a little road trip and attend the Dublin conference in Feb. I'm already looking forward to meeting so many people at NCTE! I'm also thrilled to be a part of Kassia's blog tour for Math Exchanges. :)

    Thanks for all that you do in the name of encouraging all of us to stand up for what we believe, Cathy!

  6. Cathy,
    Great goals. I, too, want to try to write a blog post once a week (or more) and to comment on as many blogs as I can. There is so much good stuff out here and I feel bad when I can't find the time to get to it.

    I also want to read Math Exchanges. I love teaching math and feel like it often takes a back seat to Literacy in many elementary schools. I need to go look into that book.