Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Vision and Goals 2007-2008

It's that time of year again: time to submit my Educational Vision and Annual Academic Goals to my administrators. As part of my professional evaluation, which ultimately leads to my being offered a job contract in subsequent years, I must maintain an Educational Portfolio. Each year I must revisit, reevaluate, and reissue the aforementioned documents. Realistically, my vision doesn't change much, but my goals typically do. Here's what I have so far for my "Vision Statement." What do you think?

Vision Statement

In addition to providing a challenging, rigorous, and stimulating opportunity to learn advanced mathematics, I want to teach students the vital skills that transcend the classroom: a strong work ethic, an intellectual curiosity, problem solving methods, disciplined habits of mind, self-confidence, a healthy informed skepticism, and the ability to write, talk, and communicate mathematics. What we hope to achieve in character, we must exhibit in our schools. If we, as teachers and parents, permit dishonesty, selfishness, apathy, and anything less than best efforts in our children, we need not be surprised when we see these things in our society and in the world. We are not just teaching our respective disciplines, we are teaching children. We must demand the most of them, lest they be content with mediocrity. We must emphasize the methods as well as the product. We must push them to the edge, but also give them the support and incentive to stay there. We must repose them with a sense of confidence and sound intuitive judgement. We need to help them learn the things that no test can measure. In the final analysis, it is not what we have done for them, but rather what we have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful.

Sound impressive, doesn't it? John Wesley Young summed it up more concisely: "It is clear that the chief end of mathematical study must be to make the students think." A major reason the beginning of each year is so difficult for me, my students, and parents is because of my efforts to get all of us looking in the same direction. Many students don't immediately adopt my vision, and sometimes parents are quick to defend old lines of sight. Eventually, though, those that stick with it have no alternative but to espouse my beliefs. What power I have!!

So what are my goals for this year? I've got the following prospective list so far.

1. To withstand the temptation to yield to the reactionary demands of students and parents to be an “easier” teacher, and continue to find the strength, motivation, and medication to “go against the grain,” and “swim against the current” of making kids think for themselves, be responsible for themselves, and take a leading role in their own successful education.

2. Win the lottery

3. Find a cure for apathy and ignorance

Pretty good goals, I have to admit. Now our administration would not consider these "measurable" goals. No, I must somehow incorporate a way to "check off" the goal once it is reached. I'm kind of surprised that a bureaucracy would not embrace vague, platitudinous, immeasurable goals. Oh well, I'd argue that I can write MANY checks if goal number 2 is achieved (and by the way--I WOULD continue to teach.) I do have SOME control over goal number 1 but how can I quantify that "student A has taken a leading role in his own successful education." Producing an actual homework paper apparently doesn't count, but is a minor victory nonetheless. As for goal number 3, well if that goal was achieved, I wouldn't need goal number 2, would I? What a rich many I'd be.

Here are some alternative "measurable" goals:

  1. To implement the curriculum of two new textbooks in precalculus and calculus, making the detailed, worked-out solutions to each homework assignment available to students online at my website so that they can reference my work when they are stuck or when confused as to how to present a solution. This is a major time commitment, but I believe it will pay dividends in terms of student understanding and responsibility.
  2. To encourage as many students to take and pass the AP calculus exam as possible, and to increase both the number and percentage of students passing. I would like at least an 80% passing rate. Also, of those passing, I am hoping at least half of them are 4s or 5s
  3. To continue my commitment to professional and personal growth, modeling intrinsic motivation, enthusiasm, successful habits, and sense of humor, emphasizing that math does not have to be boring as long as it still taken seriously, that mistakes are a necessary part of progress, and that not all solutions are easy or immediately obvious.
  4. To complete another successful television season filming "Deja vu, It's Algebra 2," creating curriculum that will help students be more successful in the classroom.
  5. To implement the use of technology, allowing students more self-guided time on computer software for remediation, increased and more refined use of graphing calculator and calculator programs including computer animations to illustrate concepts. I will also continue to use and improve my use of TI-Interactive and TI-Smartview software to created complex mathematical graphs for worksheets and tests, and to use the TI-graph link driver. I also hope to keep my website updated with lesson plans, information, and copies of class handouts to provide students with a resource outside of class.
  6. To increase each student’s ability to read, write, and communicate mathematics. Often students understand how to do a problem, but have difficulty explaining it to someone else. I will accomplish this goal by having students explain in class the answers to the “why” and “how” questions, and by providing them the opportunity for short answer responses on tests, quizzes, and homework.
  7. To increase communication with parents on a regular basis, especially proactively, and to be more “customer friendly.”
  8. To prepare and push the UIL mathletes enough so that we my place in the district competition in all three events: Number Sense, Calculator Applications, Written test.

And finally,

9. To blog daily as a way of creatively expressing myself and and a source of self-preservation (or as my wife says, "to hide from the family.")


Shealynn said...

I wouldn't say "hide." Maybe "avoid" or "ignore" or "waste time when you could be helping..."
Good luck with your goals, especially the lottery one.

Brenda said...

Hahahaha...Shealynn and I discussed your blogs at the football game - I personally like them very much, but I understand her point.

Good luck with your goals!