Although I use Google for many things in my life, I don’t use it regularly for the Groups feature. However, some colleagues of mine began an area math department chair Google group, and there have been some great email exchanges. I credit @MrJoshSeamon for organizing the group meeting this year, and keeping the conversations going. I must admit that as I woke up today, and contemplated adding in a 2.5 hour drive into my day for a meeting that I could attend for 2.5 hours, I was not feeling inspired. However, I’m so glad I did get in my car, and rearrange my schedule to make it work.
It is always refreshing to see others who do your job, and to hear from them about how things are going. I liked starting the gathering by sharing things that had gone well this year for each of us. That set a tone of positivity to the day, although there were certainly moments to commiserate as well. Fourteen of us were present, from area peer schools. There were certainly some voices missing, but there was a solid representation, and enough of a critical mass to have more than enough conversation and sharing of ideas. One of my big takeaways from the day were some ideas from @MrAbend about grading more holistically. He was generous enough to share his rubrics and handouts via email, and I’m excited to think about ways to use this next year. I also liked the idea that is a key part of the Andover structure around compartmentalizing trimesters of courses. This model may work best in a trimester system, but I hadn’t thought of that until someone else brought it up again today. There are some intriguing possibilities, if students are able to enter into a course at the spot where they need it most. Maybe some kids only need part of a year of a particular topic? Or maybe this is how choice can enter the curriculum more easily?
I found myself connecting with colleagues today in ways that made me want to talk more, keep meeting and listen a lot. I also heard several comments over the course of the day that solidified my view that my department’s current focus on equity and access is more vital than ever. I feel like my school could be a leader in this area if we make some deliberate, positive, informed changes.
Every time I leave campus to go to a conference or meeting with other educators, I am reminded at least once about how lucky I am, and how great my school is. Even if I took nothing extra away from attending today’s gathering, the realization of the amazing caliber of students we have, and how lucky we are to have them, makes me excited to get to class tomorrow. And to keep working for all of the kids in my school.