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What are you zinking about?


There are days and sometimes weeks when I am just drifting along with my head barely above water. It seems as if it’s just one thing after another and I end up switching into survival, one day at a time, get it done cause it’s due this afternoon mode.

And I know it’s the same for you. People tell us that February is the shortest month. But if you’re just moving from one class to another, from one meeting to the next, parent contact to parent contact, February can feel like it lasts forever. We feel your pain.

So it’s a perfect time. Time for some sort of mid-year self reflection.

As educators, I’m convinced that we don’t do enough metacognition. We don’t reflect often enough about our practice. We don’t chat enough with our digital PLNs. And we need to. We need to take more responsibility for our own professional learning. Especially in the doldrums of February.

So your job over the next week or so? Catch your breath, be intentional about setting aside some time, and do a little bit of zinking:

The best place to start the zinking process is to spend some time reflecting on what’s gone well. Make a quick list – on the back of napkin, sticky note, a short Tweet – about successes:

  • What lessons / activities since the start of the school year have worked like a champ?
  • What are some things that you know that kids have learned?
  • What new things have you learned?
  • What new people have you met?
  • What books or articles have you read that
  • What tech tools and strategies have been successful?

Then move on to things that still need some attention. Use student feedback, conversations with fellow teachers, browse through your required PD plan and make a short list of stuff where growth is possible.

  • Have you noticed things that you need to work on? Perhaps more effective bell work? Using primary sources? Formative assessments? questioning techniques?
  • What never gets finished? How might that process be altered?
  • What always makes you feel uncomfortable?
  • Is there a tech tool that you’re just dying to try?
  • Maybe you struggle a bit with interactive lecture and presentation.

This can be difficult. Using video peer tutoring could be a great way to jumpstart your thinking.

Develop an Action Plan. What can you try and accomplish between now and the end of school?

  • Pick one or two things that are doable in the short term – things that you can attack by the end of the month. Try a new tech tool, maybe Zoom or Flipgrid or my new fav NowComment.
  • Do the same thing for the long term. Plan on changing one thing, improving one thing, between now and the end of the semester. Focus on creating better writing prompts or embedding more document analysis activities. Maybe read a book. Find one or two others who’ll read it through with you. (Thinking about how to improve your presentations? You can’t get any better than Nancy Duarte’s Resonate.)
  • Create a timeline. Share the timeline online via a Tweet or blog post. Or with the teacher down the hall. Or your department chair. But someone needs to be willing to hold you accountable.

We know that February can be a long month. Shorten it by intentionally making choices that improve your instruction and make you better at what you do.


What are you zinking about?




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