What if?

It’s that time of year again. Time to reflect on the past. Time to dream and plan for the future. New Year’s resolutions abound (once the holidays are over of course!) Often these resolutions are personal. Is it time to start a diet? Time to commit to exercise? Time to create a budget? What is it you are most committed to continuing or improving in 2016?

On the work front, how is your work with students and colleagues renewed too? As the winter break approaches stop and ask yourself “What if…?” Take the time to wonder and dream about an amazing 2016.

When thinking of students, questions might come to mind like:

  • What if students came eager to learn mathematics, pose questions, and learn through mistakes?
  • What if all students learned mathematics at high levels?
  • What if students worked eagerly in teams to solve tasks and share solution strategies?
  • What if students demonstrated the habits of mind in the mathematical practices or your state process standards?
  • What if students could articulate what they have learned and what they haven’t learned yet and could make a plan to learn the content?

When thinking of colleagues, questions might come to mind like:

  • What if I learned new instructional strategies from my colleagues to reach more students?
  • What if we wrote quality common assessments that gave us information for future planning?
  • What if students uniformly reflected on common standards/targets we created for each unit?
  • What if my team worked to find quality higher-level tasks and shared the workload for instructional activities?
  • What if students and parents saw us as a team working to support and challenge each student as they learn mathematics?

And then, finally, ask yourself, “What if I could make this vision a reality?”

From my work with teachers and teams, I know you make a difference. That difference is even more pronounced when you work with colleagues and have a relentless focus on student learning. Students at your school need you. Together you can make your vision come alive.

What is your resolution this New Year to make your “what if” questions a reality? How will the students and your colleagues contribute to your plan? The time is now. There is a historical past and a future dream. What if you blended it all together with your renewed focus on teaching and learning mathematics?

May you make your biggest difference yet in 2016!   Happy New Year!

Sarah Schuhl

Sarah Schuhl is a consultant specializing in professional learning communities, mathematics, assessment, school improvement, and RTI. She has been a secondary mathematics teacher, high school instructional coach, and K–12 mathematics specialist.

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