One of my favorite things about the end of December and the beginning of January are the summaries that bloggers share with their networks detailing the posts that drew the most attention in digital spaces. By pulling the best pieces to the forefront, they make it easy for me to quickly find important thoughts that I missed in my feed reader during the course of the year.
Since 2011, I’ve done the same here on the Radical, spotlighting the five posts that had the highest number of page views during the previous calendar year.
For 2017, those posts were:
Is Your School a “Rules First” or “Relationships First” Community? — Here’s a simple truth: I spent the better part of 2017 struggling with the fact that most schools prioritize rules over relationships. We spend tons of time talking about the best punishments for students who misbehave without recognizing that strong relationships with struggling students is the best “behavior management” strategy. That’s what this bit is all about — and I hope it challenges you to question the kind of community that your classroom and/or school has become.
Want Better Faculty Meetings? Start Here. — Probably the biggest change in my practice during 2017 was my decision to start writing Kudos Cookies — simple notes of praise and encouragement — to every kid in my classroom. Watching the impact of those notes on my students has been awesome. They smile and sit a little taller in their seats and thank me and put their notes in their binders or hang them on their lockers, jazzed to have been noticed. It’s the best thing that I do every day. In this bit, I push schools to make writing positive notes to students a part of every faculty meeting.
Writing Student Friendly Learning Goals — Written all the way back in 2008, this bit makes my Top Five Radical Reads list year after year. It describes the reasoning behind both writing learning objectives in student friendly language and then sharing those learning objectives with students during the course of regular instruction. It also shares a simple process for making that practice actionable. I’m always jazzed to see that it remains one of the most popular Radical reads simply because it is the first step towards creating a culture of feedback in schools — a topic that I’m more than a little passionate about.
Need Proof that Your Homework Isn’t Fair? — 2017 has also been a year of deep reflection for me around issues related to equity. I’m starting to realize just how difficult life really is for students living in poverty — and just how little schools are doing to create equitable learning opportunities for EVERY kid in their care. One simple example: Our homework practices, which do little to acknowledge that completing tasks at home just isn’t a priority for families struggling to survive. That’s what this piece is all about.
My Digital Portfolio Project Planning — One of the neatest professional initiatives that I was a part of last year was as a member of a team of teachers working to think through the role that digital portfolios could play in our assessment practices. Conceptually, digital portfolios resonate with me because they allow teachers and students to demonstrate both progress and mastery in different ways. The hitch is making digital portfolios doable. This bit introduces readers to some of the steps that I took to introduce portfolios to my students.
Some of my favorite posts of the year didn’t make it into the top five. Give ’em a look, though. You’ll get a sense for who I am as both a person and professional:
In the end, 2017 has been nothing short of a wild ride — filled with new opportunities, new instructional experiments and new lessons learned, both personally and professionally.
Through it all, Radical Nation has been there — reading and reflecting and challenging and questioning. For that, I continue to be incredibly grateful. Here’s to hoping that you’ll stick with me into 2017. I’d miss you if you were gone.
Related Radical Reads: