Teaching Profession Opinion

Top 11 Moments of 2015 - Momentum to Build On

By Starr Sackstein — December 27, 2015 4 min read
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2015 was a year of incredible highs in the life of this high school teacher.

Everything from seeing hard work culminate in finished projects to engaging nationally and internationally with respected educators who pushed my ideology and practice in new ways.

So excited to share my highlight reel with all of you. Here goes:

  1. The year started out on a high when Blogging for Educators: Writing for Professional Learning from the Corwin Connected Educator series became available for all the world to learn from. This was my first formal publication with an education publisher and I was thrilled to work with Peter DeWitt and Ariel Price on it. Working through the best information to share with readers and the easiest way to present it was a process that was valuable and reminded me how much revision is necessary for writing to be finished. It reinforced an empathy I always shared with my students. Throughout the year I have had many people share their first blog posts with me after having read the book and it delights me to no end that they have courageously stepped out to share their unique and important voices.
  2. The student media outlet at my school, WJPSnews.com has been recognized as the best online newspaper in New York City this year at the Newsies, which is sponsored by the high school collaborative at Baruch College. We’ve been working on our website for a few years now and have alway been a first runner up to a very prestigious New York City high school. So it was thrilling to finally have the students recognized in this way. Additionally, we are Crown finalists for digital newspaper with the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.
  3. Attending the OPPI Festival in NYC in May was a lot fun and a wild ride. In addition to enjoying really different conversations with folks about education topics that matter, I made friends with people that I hope will be around for a long time. I learned about ECET2 and mingled with the likes of Pasi Sahlberg and Andy Hargreaves and got to pick their brains about public education around the world. We need to have more opportunities to have these important dialogues involving more stakeholders.
  4. Being a Bammy finalist as an Education Blogger and later being recognized as an educator to watch in 2016 by the organization. Recognition of any kind is never necessary, but always appreciated. As educators is it seldom that we get our public recognition. Mine usually comes in the form of student thank yous or parent thank yous. This year it came in a much more public and unique way. Being named among the final five with folks I was... let’s just say it was an honor to be named next to each of them.
  5. Attending my first ISTE in Philly was momentous. Not only did I get to present about digital storytelling and with the excellent Corwin Connected Educator panel, but I got to hang out with many people that I respect and admire. I even got to take A LOT of selfies with people I admire and people who have been kind enough to be loyal readers and supporters of the work I do.
  6. Attending ECET2 national convening in Seattle this past summer. If you want to be treated like a rock star as an educator that you need to get invited to ECET2. Not only did I mix and mingle with some of the brightest in education, but I worked in a colleague circle, hung out with friends and got inspired. It was also exciting to explore Seattle for the first time and to get a new tattoo signifying my struggle with anxiety.
  7. Recertifying as an Master Journalism Educator through the JEA. After five years, I needed to take the time to show my commitment to journalism teaching and took the opportunity to recertify. JEA was the first professional organization I really felt a part of and still feel very connected to my fellow journalism teachers. There is so much gratitude for the service I have been a part of and I continue to take those relationships very seriously.
  8. Officially becoming a hybrid teacher/teacher coach. Getting word this year that I would be splitting my time as a teacher and a teacher coach was a highlight. It is something I’ve wanted for a while and as most of you know, as practitioners, we must continue to grow. This new role has really helped me see the craft of teaching differently and I appreciate the opportunity to work with both students and adults, teaching each to better hone their voices.
  9. Teaching Students to Self-Assess: How can I help students reflect and grow as learners? The publication of this book was the start of the assessment shift. Student reflection is a passion of mine and I’m eager to help other teachers make it a part of of their practice. I love being able to say that I am an ASCD author and that what I’ve shared will help more students consider their learning more effectively.
  10. Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a Traditional Grades School. This book has been a long time in the making. For the last couple of years, I have been taking risks, really focusing and adjusting practice, to the point where I can share what has been successful for anyone on the spectrum of considering a gradeless classroom. Sharing this work is something I’m so proud of as it does have the potential to really help change the way we do assessment.
  11. The Power of Questioning: Opening Up the World of Student Inquiry. The year will be closing out with my final publication. One to start the year in January and a few to finish. Questions need to put in the hands of students and there is a way to teach teachers how to do that.

I’m hoping that 2016 brings even more successes to my classroom and yours.

What were your top moments of 2015? Please share; I’d love to celebrate with you

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