Teacher Goals – 2017/2018

We had a goal writing exercise during in-service this last week.  We were to come up with at least one pedagogical goal, one professional goal (not necessarily related to content), and one wellness goal.  Here’s the gist of what I wrote in my journal:



I’ve been thinking through Robotics mostly lately. I’ll be doing stuff with the drone for the first time. Still thinking through how to run the tests outside with one drone; what will others do while they wait their turn? Maybe someone else could bring a DJI if they have one. Perhaps my own personal SPARK drone would be worth the investment. Also with the robotics projects, I think I’m going to nix some of the blogs/presentations. I just need my own checklist to see if they’ve accomplished it (or I could even just write it in a comment in Google Classroom that I can come back to) and they answer maybe a couple questions to ‘turn in’ to Classroom. I’ve got the following projects: diamond/letter, wheelless, sensory, sumo, final. Maybe I should just do the presentations for the sumo and final one. We maybe lose 2 whole classes a semester on time spent writing the blogs that aren’t really being shared with anyone but me. Having connected with thatSTEMclass on YouTube will be helpful and having Droneblocks will be great for the drone stuff. I’d like to incorporate some community engagement; ideally some folks coming in and working with the kids, maybe even one person presenting to them.


I’m refining my stats project to be both my ‘city as a classroom’ & ‘math exhibition‘ project (some context – city as a classroom is an initiative where our school would like more community engagement). During the statistics unit, I want to focus on analysis of data and and do an exercise where student manipulate their own data to make it say something it doesn’t really say so they can see how easy that is. I’m also thinking through the note taking stuff; last year in the second semester I moved completely to printed notes. Are there really any benefits to having them copy notes into their journals if I can provide them with the questions written out on paper and a place for them to do their discussion problems? I should put a little more effort into those handouts if I do that.

The downside of them doing notes in their journal besides how much more time it takes is that a lot of times the opening question will be really rich but I don’t want them to waste time writing the question out.   I would then say ‘just answer in a complete sentence so you have an idea of the context of your answer when you come back to it’ but that rarely happened. They can learn how to take notes in other classes and they’ll still have to organize their discussion problems neatly. Also, if I have the discussion problems printed out, it will be a little easier to come back to (vs trying to find it in their journal) and when we go over them as a class, I can make it explicit to them to make corrections in a separate color so they can see how their thinking changed; gold for the math blog reflections (what I call the ‘math in my own words’ or MiMOW blog).

And ah the MiMOW, how do I want to tweak that? I think the rubric I modified mid-year last year was valuable. I should include more expectations if a student decides to do a video and just give those two options; a blog or video. In the past I was like YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO A BLOG, YOU CAN DO IT SOME OTHER WAY, LIKE MAYBE MAKE A VIDEO OR SOMETHING… but that was so vague and the only guidelines I gave were ‘answer all the questions and keep it under 5 minutes.’ I only had 1 student do a video last year. It was a bit hard to follow what she did because the quality wasn’t super great and it was a 7 minute video. I should make an example of ways to shorten it down (have the work written out completely already and walk through it vs writing it out in the video)


I’m excited about Bankaroo; the saving is more meaningful and makes the money inaccessible when they’ve set it aside for a goal; in the past, they ‘put money aside’ for a goal but still had access to it so they would still just spend it during the auction. As far as class jobs; I think I’m going to have a new job of tassler and bell ringer (I need to get a bell) to prepare for centering (our mindfulness breathing exercises we start every class with). I need to decide about having a student head out of class if they didn’t have out the appropriate materials; ideally the student who rings the bell would say ‘please step outside if you’re not prepared for class to begin’ and it has to be a very clear understanding that the student is to step outside quietly. I worry about those students who are chronically walking in the door seconds before you tassle and the strong drive to save face with a small comment like ‘well looks like I’m out in the hall again!’ to which the whole class giggles. They also miss out on the opportunity to center. They come in and even though they quietly get out their stuff, they’re not present for those first few moments that I’m explaining the agenda, which I guess they wouldn’t be anyways if they didn’t have their stuff out BEFORE centering. Maybe if this is an expectation from week 1, it won’t be a problem the rest of the year. I did introduce it in Jan or Feb last year.

They do get 1 free bathroom break a week this year. I couldn’t think of any commission based jobs besides the photographer and that never went super great. Maybe more money per picture where they have potential to gain up to $1800 a month or something. And I should also give them permission to post the photos/videos during debrief. I don’t think I’ll have a head banker this year, just a few bankers per class for bonus money, and I’ll make a spreadsheet where students log their bonus money there and the bankers deposit it and they can highlight it when it’s been deposited to keep track. The clients names will be linked to their bonus money log too. Perhaps I should give fine officers access to withdraw fines from clients but still write out the receipt and hand them out during break…I still like them having to use some break to pay the fine and get checked by the fine officer…a little bit more of a natural consequence and they feel it instead of money just leaving their account without them really even paying attention to it. Finally I think the job salary range will be from $1000 – $1600.

You can see my whole classroom economy set-up HERE.  It includes documents and videos where I explain how I do everything..


For advisory, I don’t know if I have any big changes or plans besides really make birthdays a thing this year. I need to touch base with Kelley, one of our all-star advisors who does well with birthdays. Also, perhaps we can set up a mentorship program 2nd semester with an 11/12th grade group.



Regarding reflection in general, these last two years I’ve committed to writing a weekly reflection blog every week regarding my practice. I did enjoy doing that and found some value in it, mostly in going back and reading them a year later and remembering what worked and what didn’t. I haven’t made up my mind about if I want to do that again or not. I don’t know if I’d like to devote more time to my weekly YouTube upload as I’ve found that more rewarding and satisfying to focus on. I think the stressful part of the weekly blog reflection was trying to find pictures and then make a good cover photo for it. That sometimes took 30 minutes and the reflection itself was probably 30-45 minutes. Perhaps I should just be fine with it being fairly straightforward just text and photos if I need them.

Last year I did the ‘write something’ initiative; a weekly blogging reflection challenge for other teachers who signed up to be a part of it.  By the end of the year, I was pretty much the only one doing it and that didn’t really bother me but I just didn’t want to keep sending out the emails to everyone in the group and throwing another thing on their plate. I felt like it was just turning into Thom’s blog promotion email (we would share our blogs with each other when we finished them). One teacher did share that every time she saw the email she felt guilty for not having done any reflections yet.  I don’t know, maybe I’ll send out an email asking if anyone would like to be a part of it again and see if there’s any interest. What I did like about it is that I ended up using more inviting prompts about topics in education as opposed to just saying ‘reflect on your week.’ That brought a lot of new and interesting content to my own blog and gave me a chance to think through and write about stuff I had never articulated (like discussing homework, race in the classroom, dealing with student pushback, and common mistakes teachers make) . Maybe I’ll look for any groups already doing a weekly prompt like the #mtbos last year (that I didn’t keep up with).


Maybe I want to focus on tapping into Twitter more. Partly because I want more followers because I need that validation because I’m an idiot, partly because I’d love to actually develop a relationship with a lot of these educators. Up until now, I have seen Twitter mainly as a place to promote my own work. Granted, I target the audiences I feel would find the most value in it. That was the main reason I went into Twitter chats. Lately I’ve been reaching out and asking questions to people that I know are doing some good stuff. I think if I’m more involved, I’ll come across more quality content naturally (as I’m not often intentionally looking for it). I’ll also connect with more like-minded educators. But it takes time and effort – Twitter chats, reading other people’s blog posts, engaging, commenting, following, etc. Do I want to invest that time? Do I think I will gain that much value from trying to develop those potential relationships? It’d be hard to be blogging, Tweeting, and YouTubing consistently each week. Hm…


I’ll also spend Wednesday mornings furthering my own math knowledge via Khan Academy again this year. I’ll be able to be a bit more consistent since I won’t have to be at school until a little later on Wednesdays and Fridays.


Regarding wellness, I think this is fairly front of mind for me a lot. I’m looking into joining Brazilian Jiu Jitsu once Sara starts working. That mixed with running, I feel will keep me fairly fit (along with maintaining a slow-carb diet). If it doesn’t work I’ll just go back to my weight lifting program. Also for my own mental health and creative outlet, I’ll continue making videos every week and doing the freelance voiceover work. As far as maintaining friendships, bible study on Tuesday nights and mens breakfast every week will be good for me. Sara and I plan on doing a bit of traveling together this year (El Salvador at least) and I promised to be her post-work running buddy once she starts working. And finally, to redeem my commutes, I’ll continue to listen to podcasts of things I find interesting. Oh and I’m joining the Mandarin 1 class at school to start learning that!


  • Wed morning personal math learning
  • Robotics
    • introduce drone programming
    • less blogs/presentations after projects for more time doing
    • bring community member in
  • Pre-Algebra
    • revise stats project to hit math exhibition, city as classroom, and diversity education
    • all notes are guided hand outs (vs writing in notebooks)
    • clear guidelines on video MiMOW option
  • Class Economy
    • bankaroo
    • streamline bonus money process
    • new tassler/pre-center job
    • photographer is commission but with more opportunity
    • 1 free bathroom break a week
  • Advisory
    • make birthdays a big deal (see Kelley)
    • see if mentorship would be a good fit for 2nd semester
  • Bare bones weekly reflections (maybe ‘write something group’)
  • Expand my meaningful professional learning network through more focused weekly time on Twitter
  • Jiu Jitsu
  • Running w/ Sara
  • Slow-carb
  • YouTube video every week
  • Freelance voiceovers
  • GC & mens breakfast
  • Guatemala trip + w/ Sara
  • Podcast commutes
  • Mandarin

By Thom H Gibson

I help middle school STEM teachers create meaningful & memorable experiences for their students. Teacher, podcaster, YouTuber. Two-time teacher of the year

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