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Last September, I used futureme.org to send myself a letter. I wrote it on the first day of school and it listed my professional goals, my personal goals, and the goals I have for my students. I wrote this letter in an email on September 10, 2015, the first day of school. On June 10, 2016, around 8:00 am, I received the letter from myself dated September 10 that began:
It is now June of 2016 and I have hopefully completed my 20th year of teaching and my 19th year at Far Hills…”
As I read through this letter that was written by me nine months previous, I began wondering how many goals I achieved and what I learned from all of the goals listed. Out of my nine professional goals, I achieved eight of them. The one that I did not achieve is one that I am currently working on and hopefully will finish at some point this summer. Out of eight goals I had for my students, I helped them achieve seven of them, which is very good. Out of eight of my personal goals, I successfully achieved five of them. From all of this, I learned that these goals reflected my priorities for my students and me. Goals such as teaching the students the importance of creativity and performing as an ensemble and remembering that each student is someone’s child, are goals that I continuously work. I also realized that next year, I will write some of these goals on a poster and display them in my classroom, especially those that lend themselves to being essential questions like, “How is music performance evaluated?” and “How does making music change you?” This way, I can continuously focus on those goals.
I feel that writing to your future self is a great way to help you reflect on your school year. It assists you with recalling what you wanted for your students and for yourself in the beginning of the school year. It reminds you of the challenges and successes that you experienced throughout the year. It helps you to recall how you achieved a success or how you overcame a challenge. Finally, it reminds you that no matter what you went through this school year, you survived and you are either 1) ready to move forward to the next school year wiser and ready to challenge yourself to be the best teacher to your students or 2) ready to move forward by taking that next step to another job or phase in your life.
I encourage you at the beginning of the school year to write a letter to your future self either using futureme.org or any way that helps you to receive a letter from your future self at the end of the school year.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com