It’s Spring-Try Something New

Teaching is the only profession I know where every year is a “do-over”.  Every year we get a chance to reflect upon our practice, and change up the stuff that we didn’t like the year before.  I always found that when spring came around, I was already starting to think about the next year.  What I have also discovered is that spring is the very best time to experiment in our teaching practice.

  • You have the classroom management down pat. You know your students and they know you.  They will be forgiving.  If you try something that bombs it is fine with this group.  But if you try something brand new in September then it may take weeks to get back on track.
  • You have a pretty good idea of the academic achievement of your students right now. If you had to (but you don’t and you will get more data) you could write the report cards.  So, if you try something now that doesn’t work too well, it isn’t going to make a big difference to your understanding of what your students can and cannot do.  In September you are busy with diagnostics and trying to get a good enough feel for the students that you can write the progress report.
  • It’s spring! The weather is good and everyone is in a good mood.  Mixing things up right now fits with the season.
  • You might be a bit bored. The kids might be a bit bored.  Try something new and everyone is fired up again.
  • You know your colleagues. When we try something new, it is good to have support.  You are part of the staff and you have friends here.  As you delve into something new, your colleagues will support you.  Plus, they already know that you are a good teacher so they aren’t judging you.  Your teaching partner might even join you.
  • You can work out the bugs. Because you know your students and they will be forgiving, you can get them to help you work out the organizational bugs of whatever it is you are trying new.  They might be able to offer feedback.  They will be honest with you.  When you implement this new idea in September there will be a better chance that it will work.

So, what is that you are thinking about doing differently for next September?

  • More observations and conversations to support your assessment? Try out some organizers for that.  Maybe plan to observe 5 kids in each class every day or every week..
  • Change how you give feedback? Purposefully plan for 10 minutes of individual conferences per class.
  • More choice in student assignments? Try genius hour for a few weeks.  Change up your next assignment and allow for greater choice while still maintaining the same learning goals and success criteria.
  • Greater parent contact? Try to make one “sunshine” call every week until June.
  • Play-based learning?  If you are a primary teacher, build in an hour of play with some specific provocations.  Do your students still learn?  Can you observe this?
  • Inquiry-based learning?  Try a short inquiry.  It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be complicated.
  • Pick up the pace in your teaching?  Could your junior or intermediate students read a novel in 2 weeks?  Try and see.  Talk less and let them read more.
  • New ways to differentiate for at-risk students? Book some time with your special education teacher to look at the next unit you are going to do to see how you could make it more accessible.
  • Using technology a different way? Try out a new ipad app or use google drive if you haven’t done so.  Have you tried Kahoot?  Padlet?  Today’s Meet?

Teaching is an exciting profession.  Use the spring time to energize your practice and try out some of your ideas for next year.  If you wait until September the business of the fall will get in the way.  You will be busy with getting to know new students, IEPs for kids you don’t know and progress report cards that loom eight weeks in.  But now is the perfect time to try something new…no one will die.

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