May is a nice time of year in teaching. You know your students. You have the classroom management down. While you will collect more assessment data, you have a fair amount. And, you are beginning to think about next year. They say that one of the most stressful things about teaching is that you have definite start and end dates. However, I have always thought that one of the nicest things about teaching is that every year you get a “do-over”. Every year, about May, I start to think about how I will do things differently in September. Some things will stay the same but I do start to think about my “do-over”.
So, May and June are the times when I try new ideas to see how they work. September, while being a fresh start, is really not a good time to try out new ideas because you are getting used to a new class, or a new grade, or a new subject, or a new school. September is busy with paperwork. And, new ideas don’t always work the first time around. You are more likely to persevere and work out the bugs in May.
Here are some ideas you may want to try if you aren’t already:
- Try to work with one small group every day in each class, even if it is only for 10 minutes.
- If you already work with small groups, move to the next step and try to build it into your weekly plan.
- Try out some of the apps that allow students to collaborate and create: Edmodo, Educreations, PicCollage, iMovie, Prezi.
- Incorporate “turn and talk” at least once into every lesson.
- Do you conference with students to get a better understanding of their thinking? Try planning to talk one-on-one with one student every day for 5 minutes and reflect upon what you learn.
- Try returning some work without a mark or level but just feedback. How do your students react?
- Do your students have goals for themselves as they start their work? Try some quick and easy ways to get students to identify a goal and determine if they have achieved it.
- If you tend to sit at your desk while kids are working, try moving to a table at the back or another part of the room.
- If you tend to teach from the front of the room, what happens when you sit in the middle of the room?
- Are your minilessons really mini? Can you get them closer to 7 minutes?
You may have your own reflections and ideas about things you want to do differently with next year’s class. I would urge you to try it now. You will be far more likely to have it work next September if you try it now.