September - new school year - new outlook - new approaches

So it's sweet September. Well today is September 2. It's Labour Day which means tomorrow is the first day of a new school year.

My challenge (to myself) is to begin this twelfth year of teaching (hey, it's my second career) with a fresh outlook.
Not to say that I've been stale or not hardworking in the past. It's just that I had a health scare this past spring and summer and it's time to really achieve a work-life balance that I've said I've been striving to achieve in the year's past.

What to do?

An oft-used but helpful reflection assignment that we educators often encounter at the end of the day of a conference or workshop is STOP, START, CONTINUE...A great way to reflect and a simple way to set - that's right, a goal.

I will:
1. Set one goal and achieve it each and every day. I love multitasking and the variety in my work. However, I can become quite the workaholic and take everything  too seriously. I should celebrate the one goal I set to accomplish each day - not tasks to complete but goals. Then everything else is a positive plus. My goal for today - work-wise is to begin writing this blog again in order to help consolidate and share my thoughts about technology in teaching. :) In this blog post I'm providing some digital resources as part of my reflection and sharing my cyberteachnological ideas.

(Speaking about goal setting, here's a great article on how to support reluctant learners to set goals from ASCD - the ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) . They also have an effective poster about 8 great ways teachers can reach students (see below)

I will:
2.  Criticizing my own learning style and "personality". I am an auditory-kinethetic-global learner. And under the Myers-Brigg's personality type an INFP -Introverted, iNtuitive (strong preferences) - Feeling, Perceiving (slight preferences over Thinking, Judging respectively).
Here's a fun web site which lists "celebrities" according to their Myers-Brigg's personality type. Of course, I'm linking directly to the INFP page. Look around. (I find it helpful to read types that I am not in order to understand where someone else is coming from.) I tend to use self-effacing humour, or bring attention to myself negatively - for some reason - often I think it's to make others around me feel more at ease - though misguided (as I've received feedback that I seem insecure, unconfident and people have felt "sorry for me"). I am confident in my competence, abilities and creativity - so gotta be stopping that nonsense. :)

Hey, not bad to be a "personality" type in the "company" of C.S. Lewis, Johnny Depp, Homer, and Morrissey to name a few. :)

Here's a link to another kind of learning style assessment (VARK) visual, auditory, reading/write, kinesthetic. It's one that younger learners can take online to provide some self-reflection and discussion. And while we recognize that each individual has  a combination of learning strengths and needs, I wonder how many of us are putting Universal Design for Learning principles actively into classroom practices. For me, the overarching  idea of UDL is that what is essential for one is good for all. To read more about UDL and see some student and teacher tools, I highly recommend CAST's web site.

CAST stands for the Center for Applied Special Technology. This link goes directly to the site's Learning tools index.However, I highly recommend navigating around the site to read about UDL itself, research and more. It's a valuable resource!

I will:
3. Love my work. I am fortunate to be an itinerant teacher which means that although I don't have a classroom of my own, I reap the benefits of working with different educators and students in different Special Education classrooms.
I can only do what I can and do the best job I can to support all kinds of learners. I learn from someone every day - whether online through the various personal learning networks I have joined or face-to-face.
After all, as a key point I gleaned from Sir Ken Robinson in one of his TED talks - our role with learners is really focussed and achievable as long as we keep our focus - distilled to a simple statement that:  teachers facilitate learning. And while the goal is simple, the means to facilitate learning is not a simple path and one that makes me utilize all of my resources in order to be effective.

But, I love to learn and strive to problem solve, persevere, experiment, advocate and refine my skills to be the best resource in the use of assistive technology at the K-12 level as I can.

So that was just some cyberteachnology to share with you as I reflect on the start of another school year.

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