Back to School 2023: What is your One Thing?

It’s that back to school time of year again. What feels exciting? What feels overwhelming?

The work of an educator is profound, and year after year, there are things that can feel exciting and things that can feel overwhelming. The back to school season can bring all of these to the forefront. The excitement of pursuing work as important as teaching; the overwhelm of pursuing work as important as teaching.

We care for our students in the midst of an emotional health crisis. We support students to develop lifelong transferable skills in the midst of massive global disruptive change. And we partner with our students to prepare them for the world when we’re not sure what their world will look like. How exciting it is to pursue this work; how overwhelming it is to pursue this work.

The One Thing Approach

At the end of my student teaching year at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, PA, I shared my to-do list for the next school year with my mentor teacher Madelaine Kingsbury. This list was long and included setting up all of my systems, routines, and processes. Madelaine briefly glanced at it and shrugged. “Choose your one thing”, she said. “You can improve everything every single year, but choose your one thing for right now and focus on it.” This, of course, was easier said than done - particularly for that first year. But over the years, this One Thing Approach, as I’ve taken to calling it, has provided me with a permission slip to make some sense of the overwhelm in order to prioritize and plan. (For a great analogy and similarrationale, check out James Clear’s guidance for What to Do When You Have Too Many Ideas and Not Enough Time.)

As teachers, we never stop learning and we never stop growing. As you manage the polarity of excitement and overwhelm this back to school season, GOA is here to partner with you. Here are three choices you can make to plan your GOA Professional Learning this year.

1. Choose an Educator Competency

GOA's Educator Competencies

GOA’s Educator Competencies are a set of skills that seek to answer the question, “What do educators need to know and be able to do?” All of our Professional Learning offerings align to our educator competencies so that we can offer both clarity in focus as well as a clear pathway for continued growth and development.

While all five should hopefully resonate and feel relevant, we invite you to choose your one for this year. Which competency most aligns with your goals this year?

2. Choose a Pathway

GOA’s Center for Professional Learning designs offerings that prioritize purpose and impact while also ensuring the sustainability of educator practice and growth. Participants leave GOA Professional Learning experiences with tools, resources, and strategies to implement right away, shifting educator practice with practical application.

Whether you choose to engage in a course, a workshop, a cohort, or a live event, you can expect highly curated resources, practical design sprints, and concrete shifts in your practice. Visit our Professional Learning Offerings page to choose offerings that align with your competency and fit into your schedule.

Creating Pathways for Professional Learning

How do I do this? Watch this video to see how to use GOA's website to choose a pathway.

3. Choose to Participate

GOA is a global community of and for educators. We are eager to welcome you to our learning experiences so that we can learn from and with you. Our greatest resource is our network of educators and school leaders who inform and influence our own professional learning and growth.

In addition to engaging in our offerings and joining our events, we also invite you to participate in GOA’s Professional Learning by sharing your learning stories. What is something your school does really well? What have you created that you are proud of? We would love to feature your story of impact. Click here to submit your own story via text or video by August 31, 2023.

After the past few years of unpredictable waves of change, the one thing GOA’s Professional Learning team is sure of is this: we are here with you and we are here for you. We look forward to seeing you in a professional learning experience soon.

GOA serves students, teachers, and leaders and is comprised of member schools from around the world, including independent, international, charter, and public schools. Learn more about Becoming a Member. Our professional learning opportunities are open to any educator or school team. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. To stay up to date on GOA learning opportunities, sign up for our newsletter.

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