Annual Learning Plan 2016-2017

My posts about previous Annual Learning Plans (2013-2014, 2014-2015), seem to be fairly well read so I feel compelled to write about my Annual Learning Plan this year, because it has taken a new direction.

This year, all of the teachers at my school were introduced to Folio Collaborative, an online platform that provides a venue for developing ongoing conversations about teaching and learning. It is a great tool for building professional relationships and a tool that I think has a lot of potential for helping foster a dynamic learning environment for professional learning. As a part of the introduction, teachers were asked to develop professional goals but we were asked by our Dean of Teaching and Learning, to write them in the form of a question based on the work of Warren Berger in A More Beautiful Question.

Each member of faculty was provided with giant sticky note chart paper and was asked to develop 3-5 ‘Beautiful Questions’ that would form the basis of their Annual Learning Plan for this year. After the questions were written down, each member of faculty posted there chart in around our large gathering space and an adjoining hallway to share with others. We then participated in a gallery walk, where we could provide comments, suggestions or feedback related to other people’s questions. In the end, the members of my department displayed their chart papers in our staff room as a continual display of our focus for the year.

My questions that I am investigating this year are:

  1. How can I help to support students in viewing math with a growth mindset and apply the principles of positive psychology to math instruction?
  2. How can I help other teachers utilize technology to support strong pedagogy to enhance student learning?
  3. How can I better support the PYP team in strengthening their understanding of the PYP to enhance students’ learning?
  4. How can I further develop students thinking skills to enhance there ability to think critically and creatively?
  5. How can I design my units and lessons to encourage and support deeper conceptual thinking and understanding?

For each goal, there are specific related action items and I can keep track of my progress within Folio Collaborative.


Save That Negative Comment For Something That Really Matters

After a talk this week by Dr. Greg Evans, a positive psychologist, at my school I have been thinking a lot about the negativity bias. This is where humans tend to focus or pay greater attention to negative things that happen – 10 good things can happen, but they are left focusing on the 1 negative thing. We have all been there and can relate to this scenario. We also cannot ignore all negative things; however, there is a ratio of positive to negative that is healthy.

As the focus of the presentation was on relationships, Dr. Evans suggested a 5:1 ratio is often found in successful relationships. That is 5 positive interactions/comments, for every 1 negative interactions/comments. If the ratio is to high – say 10:1, this is not good either. He also suggested that we often waste our negative interactions on things that don’t matter. I have caught myself a few times since the talk considering if my comments were positive or negative, but also, if they could be persevered as negative, did I want to ‘use’ up my negative interaction on that. Was it worth it? Was there a way I could re-frame the negative interaction into a positive interaction?

As an independent school teacher, I think it is particularly important to consider the negativity bias as families are investing a significant amount of money in their children’s education. If when they think of the interactions there is a ratio of positive to negative interactions that is greater or less than 5:1 this could impact their decision to re-enroll, even though there was a significant number of positive interactions. What can I do as the classroom teacher to make sure that there is a successful relationship developed? How can I make sure that negative interactions are saved for things that really matter – not wasted due to poor communication or lack of planning?

I think simply being away of the negativity bias is the first step in recognizing the importance positive interactions play in developing healthy relationships.