Category Archives: Goals

Setting my yearly goals…

We’re nearly two months into our new school year and a mere week away from the end of the first quarter…and I’ve finally just met with my principal to determine my professional goals for this year.  My timing is impeccable.  To be honest, if I had met before today, I’m not sure that I could have rationally thought through the areas that I want to focus on for professional growth for this year.  This year is undoubtably the most busy of my career thus far.  There is no humanly way that I could have carried this load any year prior to this…and I may never be able to do it again either.

So while my position technically falls under the supervision of our deputy superintendent, I met with our HS principal as the majority of my goals for this year are classroom-related.

I’ve prefaced all of my goals with the word PRACTICE.  Dictionary.com defines this verb as: to follow or observe habitually or customarily.  And that perhaps is my first goal…to practice these things.


My principal is already concerned that I’ve set too lofty of goals for myself.  It’s likely true.  But these practices may just be the communication, the reflection, the balance…and ultimately, the organization…that I need in order to keep myself sane during this tremendously challenging time.

2010 Books in Review

It’s hard to believe that it’s January 1st already.  I honestly can’t quite figure out what happened to 2010.  What a year!  I ended my 5th/6th year in the classroom.  I started taking classes towards a Master’s in School Librarianship.  I spent 6 months on a home assignment in the US to begin preparing myself for my next role…the school librarian.  But this is about my reading…and how impressed I am with myself.  That sounds more than a little vain.  This is the first year that I made a reading goal for myself.  And while I didn’t reach my goal, I am proud of what I did read and how I expanded my horizons this year.

The goal: 78 books in one year.  52 young adult books + 26 adult books.

The result: 75 books in one year.  50 young adult books + 25 adult books.

So a few thoughts on the year of reading.  I’m borrowing the questions from Jennifer Rummel at YABookNerd.  The full list of my 2010 Books can be found here.

1. Best Book of 2010

  • There were so many!  Why do I have to pick one?!  How about one YA and one adult?
  • My YA pick: All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg.  Loved everything about it: the major topics of adoption, the Vietnam War, baseball, and the narrative verse that it was written in.
  • My Adult pick: The Good Soldiers by David Finkel.  This non-fiction piece by an embedded journalist gave me a small glimpse of the Iraq that my brother-in-law saw during his 15-month deployment.

2. Worst Book of 2010

  • Can we change this to the “Guilty Pleasure of 2010?”  Okay, after reading all 4 Twilight books last year, it felt necessary to round out the mix with Book #5 – The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010

  • I wanted more from Julie Powell’s second memoir Cleaving.  Lots of whining.  Lots of cursing.  And a general feeling of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life made it the hardest book of the year to complete.

4. Most Surprising (in a good way!) Book of 2010

  • Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  I first made an attempt at this book mid-summer but it wasn’t until downloading the audiobook on my iPod that I really sunk into the expansive story.  I’ll definitely be adding this book to the Grade 12 World Literature classroom library.

5. Most Recommended-to-Others Book of 2010

  • I’m rather obsessed with Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. They definitely made the rounds to not only my Grade 7 students but also high schoolers, as well as any adults I came into contact with.

6. Best Series You Discovered in 2010

  • Perhaps another guilty pleasure.  Along with half of America, I read Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  And I heard that he had 10 books mapped out for the series?!  I definitely know that I could not have read the 7 remaining books on my iPod as I did with the first three.  Perhaps a Kindle, Nook, or iPad would have been easier on my eyes.

7. Favorite New Authors Discovered in 2010

  • John Green.  So witty.  And fantastic writing.
  • Gordon Korman.  My Grade 7’s just find him hilarious.
  • Jennifer Brown.  She tugged at the heartstrings.  Looking forward to reading her second book The Bitter End due out in May.

8. Most Hilarious Book of 2010

  • Hands down, Kucklehead by Jon Scieskza.  Laugh-out-loud funny.  Laughing so hard that I was crying.

9. Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book of 2010

  • This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas.  I shared the sentiments of a reviewer on Amazon who said that she didn’t want to leave the main character alone.  I stayed up far past when I usually go to bed so that I could protect her in some way.

10. Most Anticipated Book of 2010

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  I was camping.  At midnight, I went down to picnic tables outside of the snack shack where I could pick up on a wi-fi signal and downloaded my pre-ordered copy of Mockingjay on to my iPod.  Yeah, I was that girl.

11. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2010

  • It’s a tie between Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin.  I really loved reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s blog and seeing some of the paperback covers for Wintergirls outside of the USA.  What a difference marketing plays in book covers!

12. Most Memorable Character in 2010

  • I still find myself thinking about Melinda in Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  She has followed me for many of the almost 7 years since I first read her story.

13. Most Beautifully Written Book of 2010

  • I’m changing this to Most Uniquely Written Book of 2010.  And that goes to Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.  It takes some talent to write without many of the letters of the alphabet.  Some serious word choice in that book.
  • Oh, and another one for this category: Pyongyang by Guy Delisle.  A stark and moving graphic novel about a foreigner in North Korea.

14. Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2010

  • Silence by Shusaku Endo.  I’m not teaching it this semester but it keeps popping up in conversations with former students, on Donald Miller’s blog, and other random places.  I still think about Rodrigues and Kichijiro often.

15. Book You Can’t Believe You Waited Until 2010 To Read

  • I’ve said for years that I wanted to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver but it never happened.  This was the year.

16. New Favorite Book Blog You Discovered in 2010

17. Favorite Review that You Wrote in 2010

  • I didn’t write it…but I did record it.  My first-ever podcast was a review of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines.

18. Most Thought-Provoking Review or Discussion on Another Blog in 2010

  • Repetitive, I’m sure, but the #speakloudly conversation, discussion, and subsequent campaign against banned books was inspiring and a challenge to many of us.

19. Best Event You Participated in During 2010

  • I participated occasionally in #bookaday but not formally.

20. Best Moment of Book Blogging in 2010

  • I have not yet done a lot of book blogging…something I hope to change with the new year.  I’d like to keep better track of what I read and my reactions to what I read.  I think I’ll be doing that on GoodReads.

21. Best Bookish Discovery of 2010

  • A wonderful Twitter community that has been so helpful with their book recommendations.  They have kept my TBR continually growing.  I am so thankful for their influence in this past year despite having never met most of them.  Specifically check out the hashtags #bookaday, #yalitchat, #titletalk, and #speakloudly.
  • And even though I failed miserably (let’s not even talk about how miserably), I was enthralled by NaNoWriMo and would like to make another attempt next November…and will have a plot outline set before November 1.

I’m proud of myself for what I did accomplish this year.  I don’t know what my goal will be for this next year…100 books, perhaps?  I’m going to give myself a little bit of time to think about it.

Goal 2010!

Music:

“Revolve” by hisboyelroy
http://ccmixter.org/files/hisboyelroy/430
is licensed under a Creative Commons license:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/nc-sampling+/1.0/

12:01 and NaNoWriMo begins…

I’m going to give it a go.  I’ve never quite done anything like this before.  My current emotions in the first minute of the month: nervous, doubtful, anticipatory, excited, hopeful.

Coming to terms with my goal…

As promised, my 2010 reading goal.

I’ve given some had a week and a half to think about my reading goal for 2010.  I think I’ve come up with something relatively do-able but it is still going to be a challenge to keep up with things.

Drum roll please…my goal is 78 books during 2010.  A young adult book per week (52).  An adult book every two weeks (26).

I’m looking for accountability and some supernatural schedule adjustments to keep me in my reading habit.

Today’s numbers – 2 adult books, 0 young adult books.  Finished in 2010:

  • The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

And current reads:

  • No More Dead Dogs by Gordan Korman
  • The Book of Not by Tsitsi Dangarembga
  • Man Walks Into A Room by Nicole Krauss
  • Many Waters by Madeline L’Engle

Wish me luck!

My 2009 Booklist

A disclaimer: all of these books were either purchased with my own money, purchased for my classroom library, borrowed from a friend, or borrowed from a library.

A chronological list:

  • Among the Hidden – Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Killing Sea – Richard Lewis
  • Freak the Mighty – Rodman Philbrick
  • Shakespeare Stealer – Gary Blackwood
  • My Misspent Youth – Megan Daum
  • Wednesday Wars – Gary Schmidt
  • Silence – Shusaku Endo
  • Sweethearts – Sara Zarr
  • Girl Meets God – Lauren Winner
  • Safely Home – Randy Alcorn
  • Palace of Illusions – Chitra Divakaruni
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  • City of Ember – Jean DuPrau
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian – Sherman Alexie
  • A Wrinkle in Time – Madeline L’Engle
  • Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson
  • Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Uglies – Scott Westerfeld
  • Once Was Lost – Sara Zarr
  • Chains – Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Outliers – Malcolm Glidewell
  • The Pretties – Scott Westerfeld
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
  • Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
  • Peter and the Starcatchers – Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
  • The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
  • The Book Whisperer – Donalyn Miller
  • Al Capone Does My Shirts – Gennifer Choldenko
  • Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz
  • Homesick: My Own Story – Jean Fritz
  • Turnabout – Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Found – Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Thief Lord – Cornelia Funke
  • Spirits Eat Ripe Papaya – Bill Svelmoe
  • Uprising – Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Schooled – Gordon Korman
  • One Tuesday Morning – Karen Kingsbury
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society – Trenton Lee Stewart
  • Julie and Julia – Julie Powell
  • The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
  • Confucius Meets Piaget – Jonathan Borden
  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents – Julia Alvarez
  • The Reading Zone – Nancie Atwell

And yes, I’m still working on what that goal for 2010 will be.  Right now, I’m tentatively thinking along the lines of one young adult book per week and one adult book every two weeks for a total of 78 books for 2010.

Reflecting on 2009, Anticipating 2010

I spent a bit of time tonight looking over my 2009 goals – both personal and professional.  It’s been a pretty amazing year.  The last 4 months have taught me so much and are the majority of the reason that 2009 has been so good.

My professional goals for 2009:

  • Get 6-8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Focus in my office.
  • Read books that will enhance my teaching.
  • Do my Rubicon entries.

I would say that I made some significant progress in 3 out of those 4 goals.  There were a handful of nights that I didn’t get enough sleep (and boy, did I feel it the following day!).   My principals consented to me being based in one room this year, meaning that I had my own room and thus less distracted by a variety of people coming in to chat, to grab coffee, to find a book.

The Rubicon thing – not so much.  It’s our curriculum-mapping site.  I’m not a huge fan of it.  The theory is great!  I wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be consistency in what is taught from year to year even if the same teacher is not there.  However, the site itself is laborsome to use and a quick click to the next page without saving can cause heaps of frustration.

But on to the best part of this year – reading books that will enhance my teaching.  What a year it has been.  I decided to keep a record of everything that I read this year.  It’s a simple list on my netvibes page.  I am proud to say that as of 12:01 pm this afternoon (December 31, 2009), I met my 2009 goal of reading 45 books.  Now, to be perfectly honest, I only set this goal for myself on November 1 when I was already at 33 books for the year.  But with 33 books in 10 months and another 12 to read by the end of the year, I was really going to be pushing myself.

The books I’ve read this year have varied greatly. Breaking it down a bit:

28 – Young Adult novels to help recommend and steer my Grade 7 students to some good reads.

5 – Re-reads.  It’s amazing how books change in the years between reading them.  I found that of my adult re-reads, I didn’t like the books nearly as much as I had the first time around.

4 – Professional development books.  None of them were dry, straight information!  I will be recommending all of them to others.

1 – From a genre that I gave up reading about 10 years ago – Christian Fiction.  I found the book to be fairly predictable.  It’s easy to see how I raced through those books before.

If I had to choose my best book of 2009, I would probably choose The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  This book has changed my life and my teaching.  It’s pushed me to read and it’s pushed me to change how my Grade 7 class approaches reading.  And I think it’s pushing me to change how I approach reading in my Grade 12 classes too.

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins would definitely be my 2nd and 3rd place contenders.

I am so excited about 2010!  I cannot wait to see what’s in store for me, my students, and my learning community.

Happy New Year!