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Heading Back to School

StampaIt’s back to school time for many teachers and students! It can be an overwhelming time, with the never-ending To Do lists and details. But it can also be thought of as a time for a fresh start, beginning anew.

Here are some of the things I’ve kept in mind while starting the school year, in the 20 years I have been in education:

  • Community Building: As teachers, we usually go into the first weeks of school assuming full responsibility for building the learning space. But what happens if we put some of that responsibility in our students’ hands instead? Our new students come to us full of ideas, stories, expertise, and curiosity. These are the essential materials for a strong classroom community. Here are a few ideas for how to put those raw materials to use.
  • Classroom Management: Classroom management is an area where I feel ALL teachers need to constantly adjust, change and grow with their students. The English Journal article “Lessons about Motivation and Classroom Management” provides some advice and insights from interns in education.
  • Projects: Students learn through inquiry about aspects of the world around them, and one way to enact student-centered inquiry is through project-based learning. Read more in the article, “Enacting Problem-Posing Education through Project-Based Learning”.
  • Assessment: Assessment is different from grading. Especially at the beginning of the semester, when I am still getting to know my students, I observe and capture a series of anecdotes of student development. These can then be shared with families and administrators to provide concrete evidence of the kinds of student learning that traditional testing and reporting can have difficulty capturing. Try these strategies to use kidwatching in your classroom.
  • Inspiration: I am definitely inspired by the virtual Professional Learning Community I have established. I get lots of ideas from other educators and groups on Facebook, Pinterest helps me feel crafty, and I love the energy of a Twitter Chat! Follow NCTE online as well as ReadWriteThink on social media.

What do you focus on as you prepare for the coming school year?