Every week, ClassDojo run a Twitter chat on a Wednesday evening. After a nice winter break, they were back this week with some new year’s resolutions. As usual, I try to answer the questions that are raised each week.
Q1 What personal goals would you like to achieve in 2016? Prioritize them?
This question hasn’t much to do with the Anseo.net web site or even my day to day job so I hope readers of the blog don’t mind me indulging in this question. I have a few goals for 2016. I want to rediscover running and fitness. While I didn’t completely let go of exercise, I haven’t had a routine for a long time. Another personal goal involves another passion of mine: writing. My first book of poetry is going to be published this year by Doire Press and I want to get started on writing and reading some new material. I got some great poetry books for Christmas so hoping these will inspire me. A final goal involves Mash.ie, my relaunched web site, which I hope to get firmly established amongst Irish teachers. To prioritise these is difficult because all three can be achieved.
Q2 – What is one professional goal you’d like to achieve in 2016?
For me, I want to learn more about teaching mathematics to children who have extreme difficulties. I need to learn about getting through to children who can’t recognise numbers and patterns. I’ve already read the Elephant in the Classroom by Jo Boaler and this was pretty good but didn’t really explore the very basics of maths (not that it should have) so I have another few books on the theory of numeracy, which I’m looking forward to delving into.
Q3 – What do you do to stay focused and on task with both your professional and personal goals?
I didn’t think I was, but I work well with lists with deadlines. I hate having anything in my inbox or anything overdue on my to do list (although this article is 2 days late!) However, in general, because of this, I stick to guides. For example, I have repeated reminders on certain days to do certain things. I am probably going to add things like “Go for a run” or “read one poem” to these lists if I find I’m not doing them.
Q4 Personal and professional goals aside, what do you do to keep your professional and personal life separate?
I really try to separate them and am almost religious about doing so. From 8am to 4:30pm, it is my professional time. Outside of this is my personal time, which I divide into family, sleep and other stuff. The other stuff is where my personal goals can happen. I removed all my work stuff from my phone a few years ago and that really helped. I also don’t check my work email outside of work unless absolutely necessary. By being really strict with myself, I seem to have been able to achieve this.
Q5 – After returning from holiday, what are you doing to energize yourself + your students to rise above the status quo?
I’ve never really had this problem so I don’t know if I can say how I do it. I enjoy my work generally. My students seem to enjoy coming in too. However, I think it’s always a good idea to refresh ourselves with how thing are done in the school and classroom with the pupils with a quick recap.
Q6 Technology is challenging for some. What have you done or will you do to improve your use of it in your classroom in 2016?
I don’t find technology challenging but it moves very quickly. For me, I think my vision for 2016 is for our technology to become more and more invisible, in so far that we treat it in much the same way as we do pencils and other resources. In my own school, I think we really need to make sure the computers are working well all the time and technical support is key here.
Q7 – In terms of your students, what will you do or can you do to meet their needs? Any new ideas you’ve been wanting to try?
We’re going Maths-mad with technology this year in school and were going to continue with that. We also have a load of old initiatives (we’re only 8 years old but some of our initiatives need a lick of paint) and we’re going to be refreshing things like Healthy Eating Week and Multicultural Day. We’re also applying for awards for environmental awareness and mental health.
Q8 – If the sky was the limit what would you like to accomplish personally, professionally? Dream BIG!
Personally, I’d love to get the new dream kitchen in our house! However, I don’t think that’s really a goal. I guess, I’d love for my book to do really well and for a really rich movie director to come along and give me millions of euro to make a move out of them! Short of that, I wouldn’t mind simply seeing my book on the shelf of a bookshop. Professionally, I’d really love it if the majority of Irish people could recognise the religious discrimination that happens in most schools every single day. I would love to find the words or even a parable that would flick a switch in their heads to see how making a child sit at the back of classroom while faith formation is happening is simply not ok.
Q9 – What have you done personally, professionally to slow down life to balance it to meet the rigors of our daily challenges?
I give myself rules. My professional day starts at 8 and ends at 4:30 in general. I’m also getting better at saying no to things, even if I’d really like to do them.