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What Comes Next? Three Goals for the Edmentum Educator Network Based on Our First Educator Summit

What Comes Next? Three Goals for the Edmentum Educator Network Based on Our First Educator Summit

Does this situation sound familiar? Once again, you are in a professional development group after a long day in the classroom. You had popcorn and a Hersey’s Kisses chocolate for lunch, and you still need to pick up the classroom library, clean the paint brushes, grade three stacks of papers, pick up your own children, make dinner, and throw in at least one mountain of a load of laundry before you can even think about going to bed. Somehow, the professional development group you have been invited to doesn’t sound like the most urgent item on this list.

No matter how great the ideas presented in a professional development session are, how easy the tool or approach is to implement, how serene your classroom could become, well-intentioned professional development all too often simply feels out of reach for busy educators managing all the demands of teaching and real life. When I was still in the classroom, the idea of implementing new processes or changing what I knew (at least mostly) to work was always been a sticking point. I consistently wrestled with how I could do things for my students better without giving up always-precious time and the successful approaches I was already using. I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner, and I always wanted to be bold, flexible, and creative in my ever-changing classroom, but how? Where could I find the time? The support? And, good gracious, what about the laundry?

These scenarios were on my mind last month when I had the opportunity to lead Edmentum’s first Educator Summit. We brought a group of 19 outstanding educators from Edmentum’s Educator Network into our Richardson, Texas, office for two days of networking, learning from one another, and connecting with our Edmentum team. I was so excited to be a part of the summit, in which we worked hard to ensure that it would be filled with lots of learning. But, I also wanted to make sure that all of our participants, including my Edmentum colleagues and myself, came away with the ability to create change with all of this new information. Research and brainstorming are always fun (it’s certainly my wheelhouse), but it takes action to make a real impact with a presentation of new ideas. Finding a way for creating change began with creating a plan for implementation.

A trick I learned early in my professional life was setting realistic goals within a specific timeframe that held me accountable. The 30-60-90-day approach is a framework that helps in creating order and setting out a path to accomplishing such realistic goals. The model breaks down what progress will look like at the 30-, 60-, and 90-day marks of achieving long-term goals or sets goals over a three-month period, chunked into 30-day accomplishments. These 30-60-90-day plans have been used in the business world for many years as a measure of effectiveness. By keeping the focus on setting concrete goals, creating manageable timelines, determining specific measures of success, and ensuring accountability, 30-60-90-day plans can help educators fail fast (or fail forward), bring great ideas to life, and manage their time to still finish that laundry.

 At the Educator Summit, I leaned on this approach to make sure that we kept the focus on meaningful, actionable takeaways. I introduced the model the first thing on day one and challenged all of the  participants to create 30-60-90-day goals based on their learnings and participate in follow-up calls to hold each other accountable for progress. In turn, I promised that I would set my own 30-60-90-day goals to implement within the Educator Network so that our broader community could benefit from the shared wealth of knowledge, information, and ideas too.

Here, I want to share the 30-60-90-day goals I landed on for myself:

30-Day Goal: Read Culturize by Jimmy Casas

To bookworms out there, this may sound like an overly manageable goal, but that’s the point! Thirty days is not a long time, and my to-do list has plenty of other items on it. Reading Culturize by Jimmy Casas is a goal I know that I can accomplish (with the book sitting on my kitchen counter and 11 more days before the 30-day mark, I’m feeling confident), and it’s one that I know will provide a strong foundation for my 60- and 90-day goals. After listening to our Educator Summit presenters and participating in the discussion, it’s even more obvious to me than ever before that school climate is a huge factor in helping students develop the social and emotional skills they need in order to be successful. This book was recommended by multiple educators at the summit as a must-read—which makes it a perfect 30-day goal.

60-Day Goal: Start a Conversation Around Diversity and Equity in the Teaching Profession

The goal of conversing about diversity and equity in teaching is a little more of a stretch for me, but I’m a firm believer in embracing ambiguity, especially when it comes to the sticky, important questions. This goal came from discussion with the educators who participated on a panel with our CEO Jamie Candee and a Dallas-area student on day two of the summit. One question asked of the group was about determining some of the common struggles that educators experience in today’s classrooms. While there were varied answers and strong responses, what resonated most with me was one participant’s statement that finding educators who look like their students is so very difficult. When students feel different than their educators—whether by ethnicity, gender, or opportunity—opening doors to the world around them becomes a significant challenge. But, for all of the campaigns that are encouraging diverse students to pursue various academic and career goals, hardly any are pointing these students toward a career in education—and this is creating serious gaps in the profession. Of course, I probably can’t tackle this challenge single-handedly, but I can launch conversation within the Educator Network, within my own personal network, and within Edmentum to make sure that I’m doing my part to make progress toward a solution.

90-Day Goal: Continue Building Strong Educator Network Connections Through Site Visits

My final goal ties directly back to the mission of the Educator Network to help educators connect and share ideas. In the next three months, I hope to visit at least four of the summit participants at their home schools and districts so that I can see their best practices in action. By getting that valuable facetime and seeing them working directly with students, I know I will be able to achieve a much deeper understanding of what it is they’re doing that works and why it’s working. And, of course, I’ll be sharing that learning with the Educator Network through our monthly Twitter chats, through more blog posts like this one, and through finding opportunities for these educators to share their experiences in their own words. Plus, being able to share my first-hand experiences and articulate the classroom environments I visit back to my colleagues on Edmentum’s Curriculum team will help us live up to our #EducatorFirst mission.

I had an amazing time soaking in all of the great ideas shared at our Educator Summit, and I’m excited to start the harder, but hugely important, work of using those ideas to create change. Knowing that the entire group of outstanding educators who participated in the Edmentum Educator Summit will be holding me accountable through our follow-up calls is the motivation I need to get to work (the laundry can wait). Now, I want to challenge you. As we approach the new year, don’t just make a New Year’s resolution—set specific goals. Think about what you want to accomplish professionally in the next 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days—or even six months or one year. Build a plan to get it done and share it with our Educator Network. I am happy to be your accountability buddy, and I know you’ll meet other outstanding educators who feel the same way!