One of the nicest things about teaching is that you get a “do-over” every year. And most us, come the spring, start identifying things we will do better or differently next year. We have great intentions for September. The problem is, September is actually a terrible time to try new things in your classroom. You don’t know your students, they don’t know you, you are trying to establish routines, you need to do diagnostic assessments, IEPs are due (and you don’t know your students), long range plans are due, and the progress report is looming over your head. Often all of our best intentions go by the wayside in the business of September because we are just trying to stay afloat. So when is the best time to try something new? Spring!
April, May and June are the best times to try something new in your classroom because:
- You have classroom management for this group more or less figured out.
- You know your students and can predict what some of the challenges of your new idea might be.
- You students trust you and will forgive any disasters.
- You have built relationships with them already.
- You know them well enough that if your new idea doesn’t work and it interferes with some data collection, it isn’t a big deal. You will still be able to write the June report card.
- You’re thinking about new ideas right now—so go for it.
What might you do differently in the spring?
- Maybe you want to try using google classroom or an ipad app more regularly.
- Maybe you’d like to be more intentional with your small group instruction—do you intentionally plan who you will see and the teaching point that you are going to cover with them? Do you track this and write it down?
- Maybe you are going to structure your period in a more intentional way to allow for regular fluency work or some vocabulary development or a daily read aloud or some review of previously learned concepts.
- Maybe you’d like to learn more about readers’ and writers’ workshop and see how that might work for you.
- Maybe you are going to commit to 15-20 minutes of math consolidation every time you do a problem solving lesson, on the day you do the lesson.
- Maybe you are going to revamp how you give specific and direct feedback to students- regular conferences, as they work in google drive, in small group instruction.
- Maybe you are going to work on recording more observations and conversations and see how this changes your ability to write the June report card or form intentional small groups for specific skill instruction.
- Maybe you are going to be more intentional at teaching the specific expectations on the IEP and recording your observations of how students are meeting those expectations.
- Maybe you are going to increase the number of parent contacts you have both to get parent input on challenges but also to make good news calls.
There are always a gillion things to do. Pick one thing that you think would make a difference to your practice and try it out this spring on the classes you already know. You will be able to muck about with it and not have everything come crashing down. By June, you will have ironed out the kinks and made it part of your practice and then, in September, it won’t be a new thing but just how you teach.