August 16th, 2016
It’s my first year not returning to my own classroom. Today, as all my colleagues returned for their first day of professional development, I was across town collaborating with my new teammates designing learning experiences for teachers and reaching out to the teachers who I’ll be working with to offer support.
Even though I won’t have my own classroom this year, I started thinking about the what if. What if I was returning to the classroom this year? What would I really want to try?
Here are the three things I decided on.
Up My Search Game
I recently listened to Alan November present to new teachers in my district and I realized that while I thought I was presenting my students with enough knowledge of how to use google search operators and enough database alternatives so that they were getting reliable and varied results, I realized that I still have more to learn and therefore more to teach.
If I had my own students this year, I’d make sure that they were finding sources from different countries and from more scholarly sources. What could students gain from looking at perspectives on the US Presidential election from around the world and not just from our US media? What could they learn when they look at coverage of historical events from perspectives other than their own? What if our students from other countries could compare the way their home country presents information with how the US media does? There is a lot to gain here in looking at different perspectives. And maybe it is one small step to combatting the “filter bubble” I always discussed with my students.
Manage Projects More Efficiently
In my new role as Technology Design Coach, we use Trello to organize our team projects. Still in the classroom mindset, I immediately thought of all the ways I could use Trello to make classroom project management easier. This year, I would set up a Trello board for each of my classes and add a card for each student. On that card, students could keep track of their work, link to their completed products, easily share with the rest of the class. I really wish I had known about Trello last year when all my classes were project-based and I was doing most of the work to keep track of student work. Trello would allow me to see what students were doing, all in one place, while leaving much more of the project tracking to the students themselves.
Partner With Community Groups To Amplify Youth Perspectives
This is my passion. Since my first day in the classroom 17 years ago, I like to think that I’ve been a champion of unsung voices in my classroom and an amplifier of these messages outside the walls of my classroom. Technology makes that amplification so much easier and carries it so much further. Last year I spent significant time making sure my students’ ideas were shared publicly on blogs and then I acted as their agent to connect them to audience’s who need to hear their messages. The next step would be to bring in community partners like Austin Film Festival or Media Awareness Project who have even greater capacity to push student perspective even further outside the classroom walls in meaningful ways. Youth have so much to share and can teach us so much. I would work hard to make this happen in as many ways as I possibly could.
While I’m honestly a bit sad about not having my own classroom full of students this year, I am so excited to coach other teachers towards their own visions and goals. I’m excited about how much I will learn this year pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And hopefully, instead of just pushing myself towards these goals, I can work with teachers who both share my goals and vision and who push me to think in entirely new ways. I’m ready to learn and stretch and hopefully impact many more classroom beyond just my one.
I might not have my own classroom, but I’ll always be a teacher.
Here’s to the start of an awesome new school year!