It seems as though a few days ago I was packing up my classroom, and yet I have just a few more weeks before pre-planning starts and school begins again. I am very excited for what next year holds. I have spent my break reading and immersing myself in education literature to find inspiration and ideas for next year. I have reflected on last year and have begun to develop goals for next year.
My first goal is to create an environment that approaches behavior proactively rather than reactive. I admit this is still a work in progress, but I want to eliminate the points/rewards programs that are so popular in EBD rooms. I plan to transition to teaching the behavior explicitly and holding my students to that standard regardless of if they are having a bad day or forgot their meds. I feel as though they need to learn now, when they have a safety net that those excuses and that mentality will not be there when they are older. I think this will take a significant effort and interfere with some instruction, however if my students cannot manage their behaviors, it won’t matter how well they grasp the content.
My second goal is to focus on reading, writing, and critical thinking. Many EBD students struggle with reading because it is so hard to learn and causes many of the escape behaviors that get them evaluated for EBD in elementary school. Without being able to read, write, and analyze, they won’t be successful in math, science, social studies, or life. I have developed a grant proposal to integrate reading, writing, and behavior modeling to hopefully attack these problems together and help support my whole student and not just their minds.
My third goal is to create an environment that emphasizes self-discovery. Throughout my entire master’s program, I was told that students with disabilities fail in such environments and that they must be given direct explicit instruction with significant supports, modeling, practice, and scaffolding. While I feel these are vital to helping students overcome their disabilities, it also takes the joy out of learning. If I walk them through everything, they won’t learn how to learn on their own; they won’t learn to question or search.
Lastly, I want to become a better teacher. Sure we all say this, but my goal is to go from good to great. I have been asking veteran teachers to come by my room to observe me during their breaks and meet with me later to give me the good, bad, and ugly and to work with me to improve. I have offered my support for behavior and I really think that by working together I will be able to grow more than the typical trial and error approach many are forced to use due to lack of new teacher supports.
Next year is going to be great! I cannot wait to see my boys again, hear about their summer adventures (they have the best stories, even if they may not all be true), and most importantly to get back to my passion–supporting my students every way I can.
What are your goals for next year? Do you have any tips for me and my goals?