Summer has always been a time of reflection for educators. It’s a chance to sit down and take stock of the previous school year. What worked? What didn’t? Which tools should make the leap into the fall semester and what new goals should the classroom stride toward?
This summer’s reflection time is sure to be interesting. While this past year was certainly challenging, it also forced us educators to think outside the box and opened the floodgates of learning possibilities. We witnessed the rise of Virtual PBL, explored power standards, and saw teachers engage students through organic, outdoor learning. There’s so much to consider for our fall classrooms. So, in the spirit of reflection, I thought I’d share 5 teaching ideas I plan to remember for next year.
Building a Better Classroom
- Get Messy: As a great teacher once said, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” If this past year taught us anything it’s that messiness is an intrinsic part of education. We learn by trying new things, making mistakes, and then trying again with new knowledge and a revised plan. With maskless, in-classroom schooling looking more and more probable next year, let’s not forget to stay a little messy. Keep tapping into student curiosity and let their creative and critical thinking run wild.
- Always Chose Impact: The pandemic forced us to rethink what was most important to reach. Knowing that we would not be able to cover everything. Make sure whatever you bring into the classroom matters. Prioritize your standards. (Link to standards scoring sheets) to identify what will have the biggest impact on student growth and help alleviate any unfinished learning.
- Let Go A Little: This year, teachers lost an incredible amount of control by going online. Yet many found that by letting go a little and giving students the agency to take risks, they became more invested in their own learning. Students are often more capable than we realize. Next year, try to incorporate more student feedback into your lessons or explore projects which are student driven.
- Integrate the Outdoors: Being able to connect to nature can have a huge benefit on your students and on you as a teacher. This past year showed how engaging with the outdoors can improve student health and wellness while also serving as a source of curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Outdoor learning is also flexible and can take the shape of anything from nature journaling to STEM challenges, and even preserving endangered habitats!
- Teach Optimism: Last year was hard for several reasons. There were professional challenges, but there were mental and emotional ones too. When things got rough, it helped to adopt an attitude of gratitude and encourage others to do the same. Teaching optimism helped our students navigate their emotions and persevere through the bad days. Let’s not neglect this practice when in-person learning starts again.
Enjoy Your Summer!
It’s been a long year, and we could all use a little time to slow down, relax, and recharge ourselves before jumping into the next big project. But when you’re ready, consider using these 5 teaching ideas for the classroom in the fall. Who knows what new learning opportunities this year will present?