It’s August 21st, which means that there are only 12 days until the big day where everything starts all over. That’s right, it’s my Birthday! But one day after turning 33, I report to school for the 2014-2015 school year. As the day quickly approaches, I am starting to think through what my big goals will be for the school year. Most years I have one or two big projects outside of the classroom, such as basketball coaching, or developing new curriculum, and this year will be certainly no exception. But inside the classroom, one of my big projects will be becoming a totally different teacher (every 2 weeks or so).
The Case For Change
For the first 9 years of my teaching career I was pretty much focused on getting students through the material in as reflective of a way I could. When I found something that worked, I stuck with it. Now I have a series of worksheets, chained together into units that reflect not only what content I’ve taught, but who I am as a teacher. As I approach another year teaching the same material I kind of want to turn my back on my old standards and start something new.
There are so many great resources and lessons on the internet, I want to try actually using those in my classroom. This of course means eschewing the parts of me that live inside of the lessons I created years ago, and trying to crawl inside the minds of Dan Meyer, Andrew Stadel, Robert Kaplinsky, Mathalicious, Illustrative Mathematics, (am I missing anyone? add it in the comments) and the other educators whose lessons I could use. I think it will force me to try new ways and approaches to teaching, and ultimately make me a different, and better, teacher.
Using outside lessons could quickly provide little to no benefit. I could easily take a lesson, re-type into my regular microsoft word format, and implement it in the way I implement my boilerplate stuff. I’m wondering if I miss out on the potential gains I might see if I try to teach each of these as true the materials’ style, and as differently from my own. I really like modifying textbook and other tasks, but I think sticking to the plan will actually be a new and interesting challenge. Doing this 4 times each quarter, or roughly every 2 weeks, will provide enough to selectively choose and reflect on each item.
The S.M.A.R.T. Goal
For this year, in each of my classes I plan to substitute my regular curriculum with quality tasks from the web or otherwise.. When doing this I’m going to try to do it as faithfully to the lesson plan as possible, and only try to modify it when there is clear evidence that it needs modification. Each Quarter I plan to incorporate an outside task with my students at least 4 days (two-day lessons count as one task), and keep track of it here.