Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What’s Next?

next In A Matter of Intertia from Teacher Food by Mike Rush, he states,

“Good teachers ride a wave of momentum: their eye constantly on what's next, the next lesson, the next materials needed. She told us about how on the last day of school, teachers sit in their cars trying to think of what's next when all they really need to do is turn the key and go home.”

After reading this, I realized how true that is. I am always looking at the big picture and what I need to do next. I work towards a certain project and once the students begin it, my mind is racing to the next project.

I do so much preparation for each project and I really enjoy it. I like to write down the steps I need to follow in order to reach the point that my students are able to complete the project. I write down everything even if it is minor so I don’t take anything for granted. First, I basically brain storm all the steps and don’t worry about the order. As I think I things I don’t want to forget, I write them down. Then I prioritize all the steps once I think I have written down everything. After prioritizing, I go from one step to the next, making sure that the previous step will bring me to the next step. If it doesn’t, I need to add something there. All of this planning involves lots of research. I like to use the internet, the library, any books I have in my home, and other people who might have done something like this before. I may talk to people in person or I may just phone them. By using Twitter and Plurk, I have lots of people resources at my fingertips. Once I ask if anyone has done a project like I’m planning, I am able to talk to them about it. They are able to tell me things I might have missed or things they would avoid. This is essential to me in order to have a successful lesson. They may be able to add dimensions to the lesson that I hadn’t even considered.

I like to develop files of projects that were successful. Then I can use them in future years and add to them. If there is something that didn’t go well or it doesn’t fit my class structure, then I delete that part. Sometimes these files can be an inspiration for a different project.

Each summer I look for opportunities for new lessons. I try to be open minded so that I can find some new topics that may interest my students. If I can find a topic that interests them, I can adapt it to match the standards that are required for instruction. At the end of the year, I have each class fill out an evaluation about my program. I have them write the topics that they enjoyed, didn’t enjoy, or what they wish I had taught. This is also useful in future planning. One year we did a three month unit on dinosaurs because it was a common wish across many evaluations. Since my students wanted to learn more about it, they were more engaged in the lessons. Of course I didn’t let on that they were learning English, Math, Science, and Social Studies at the same time!

I think this constant looking forward is what keeps me motivated and inspired. I think this year I will spend a month studying a new topic on my own. I will read lots of information and take lots of notes because one day this may come in handy. The day that I’m looking forward is the day that I have given up. There is always something new to share with my students! I just need to find a way that will excite and interest them. Once I can do that, I will have a successful lesson on my hands.

Original image: 'Time Spiral'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24183489@N00/284995199 by: Alexandre Duret-Lutz

1 comment:

Bill Gaskins said...

"I am always looking at the big picture and what I need to do next. I work towards a certain project and once the students begin it, my mind is racing to the next project." I agree with you so much, but sometimes it is too easy to miss the big picture when so many mandates cloud your horizon. That is not an excuse! It just happens sometimes to good teachers.

But what do we do when we just can't see the big picture?