Off the Beaten Path

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

As I reflect on both this quote and my own teaching practices, I am reminded of some big adjustments made to my own teaching this year. These changes, though difficult, have added rich peer to peer discourse opportunities for students and compelled me to interact more with students in a positive manner, thus allowing increased opportunities for students to be pushed and excel to new levels.

When is the last time you have truly reflected on your teaching experiences? What is one thing you can do at this mid-year point to step out of your comfort zone and enhance your day to day teaching?

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Inspiration versus Defeat

Horace Mann once said, “A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.”

What opportunities are you providing for students to feel inspired? What are you doing to keep that sense of desire for learning alive in your students?

Making a Difference

Forest Witcraft once said, “A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank….but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.”

Think about all the ways you have made a difference in the life of a child. Focus on one student this week and think about what you might do to make a difference for him/her.

Hopes and Dreams

As I begin the first day of school tomorrow, I am beginning to think about Hopes and Dreams for my new class.

I dream that I can create a learning environment in which they will all be successful in their own way. I hope to motivate, inspire, encourage, and celebrate.

What are your hopes and dreams for the new school year?

Homework: Less or More

As you begin to prepare for a new year ahead of us, think about what you can do to get every student, even the most reluctant ones, to participate in class discussions and take an active role in their academic success, especially as you begin to build rapport and establish expectations.

Often times, I usually ask their opinions about things, particularly around the issue of homework and testing. My thoughts on homework seem to change every year, often based on the class dynamic at that time. Some years, homework weighs heavy while others it is a less of an issue with students and families.

Throughout my teaching career I have learned there is not a “one size” fits all approach to homework. If anything, homework assignments should be differentiated and based solely on student need.

Unfortunately this is not always an easy task to accomplish, as certain things need to be considered when assigning homework assignments:

  • Be reasonable with the amount of time you are expecting from students and families to complete assignments
  • Homework should be assigned to either reinforce or practice previously leaned skills and concepts
  • Homework should not be used in a punitive manner

What kinds of things can you do that will allow students to be successful with homework? Is there a homework expectation and/or routine that needs to be explicitly taught and/or shared with families? What will you do to hold students accountable for completing homework assignments?

Calm and Quiet

Think about your classroom expectations. Most, if not all, of us expect our students to be respectful. Think about all that respect entails. It is important to remember that this always begins with us. Our students are always watching.

Think about your “grand plan” each day as you walk into the classroom, aside from your daily lesson plans. What happens when things don’t go as planned (i.e. constant interruptions, an unexpected visit by a parent, a meeting with the principal regarding your evaluation, etc.)? How do you react with your students and/or colleagues in these situations? While you might feel frustrated and/or angry, think about those things your students face every day which they have no control over. The most important thing to remember is to always stay calm and quiet not to forget that your students are watching.

Grateful

Marcel Proust once said, “Let us be GRATEFUL to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls BLOSSOM.”

What have you done recently to show your students and/or families how grateful you are for working with them? What are you doing to make your students and/or families happy? What are you doing to cultivate your student’s growth and success? Take a minute to invite your parents in to share all the successes.