Education

The Four Things that I’m Changing in My Classroom This Year

Old Way, New WayIn my mind, I often categorize educators into two camps: those who have mastered their craft and those who seek constant improvement.   The first group is living in a fantasy world in which they have reached the crest of some mountain and can now relax and enjoy the view.  The second group is running on a treadmill, well aware that to stand still is to lose ground.

It’s in this vein that I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my plans for this upcoming school year.  Having spent the past seven months out of the classroom, it almost feels like I’m starting over again.  It can be overwhelming to try to remember all of the things that I need to consider and prepare before my year starts on July 7.  But it is simultaneously invigorating.

I’ve decided not to let this fresh start go by without acting on it.  I’m going to keep the best of what I have done in my classroom over the past few years yet make some big changes, as well.  Here are the four most important decisions that I’ve made:

  1. Get Out Of The Way.  Student-centered learning is going to be a centerpiece of my classroom this year.  Whenever possible (and that is pretty frequently) I am going to put my ego in a box and put my students in the driver’s seat.  I am going to guide them and provide them with opportunities and resources.  But, the goal is for them to find and capture the information that they will need.
  2. Start From The End.  In every unit this coming year, I plan to identify learning targets and create summative assessments before I plan a single lesson.  That’s powerful stuff, huh?  It’s the only way to ensure that you’re sticking to your standards and it teaches your students that we’re on a journey together and the destination is clear from the beginning.
  3. Help Student Learn About Their Learning.  Metacognition is the key to turning lazy adolescents into lifelong learners.  I plan to work daily on the task of helping students recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and discovering how best to help themselves.
  4. Be A Better Teammate.  This one has less to do with my own classroom as it does my school.  I’ve developed into a bit of a rogue actor over the past few years.  I try lots of new things, but I tend to resist sharing my techniques.  It’s not about ego or selfishness (really!), but it’s more about doubting that what I do will work for others with different kids and different teaching styles.  This year, however, I plan to work more closely with my interdisciplinary team and my grade level science PLC to share my skills and learning from others.

What will YOU do differently this year?

5 thoughts on “The Four Things that I’m Changing in My Classroom This Year

  1. I’m thinking about changing to standards based grading. I have been getting more and more frustrated with my meaningless grading system through the years and think it is time grades told us more that how good kids are at turning in homework.

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    1. Julie,
      That’s an awesome idea. I moved in that direction myself a few years ago, although there are limits imposed by my district and my state. I’d love to share some tips if you want some ideas.

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  2. Did I mention that I’m jazzed you are teaching again, Paul.

    Now I don’t need to look upon you with scorn and skepticism.

    #winning

    Let’s get together. Water before Noon sometime soon.

    Bill

    PS: I suppose I’ll see you at the Discovery Ed Techbook Science training, right? I tried to get out of it, considering we learned about it in the TLC, but I was told that I needed to come because “you never know — I might just learn something new!”

    Second strike against the new chief. First was that she’s not you.

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