How to Make This School Year Your Best Ever (video)

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How to make this school year your best ever - video

Will this be your best school year ever?

How are you going to make this year awesome? #teachbetter #teachfurther Click To Tweet

Full transcript below video.


Video Transcript

Alright, the question I ask myself every single year that I’m about to ask you is, how are you going to make this year awesome? Better than ever, how are you going to make this year your favorite year that you’ve ever had? Now, it’s very common as a teacher to think about three big things about how to answer that question, and I don’t really know if they are the perfect things to think about to find the solution, but it’s very commonly the ones that come to mind. How will my students be this year? Who am I working with this year? And what new initiatives are they going to throw at me that first day of institute? But here’s the deal, when were thinking about how to make this year awesome, there’s a lot of other things we should probably be worrying about, because you only have control of you and your classrooms. So how can we take the elements that we have control over, and then shift it to how to help us make this year awesome, regardless of those three things that is very common for teachers to consider.

So what I want you to think about is how you’re designing your curriculum, that’s the first piece. Because to have a really successful year, students have to learn. So when you’re thinking about how you’re designing a curriculum, depending on what type of classroom you have, I really want to challenge you to at least consider mastery, focusing on how students are understanding the information, rather than how they’re going through and completing tasks that you might be giving them. Now depending on where you are throughout your teaching career, what you’re exploring throughout PD, this could look differently, maybe you’re on one extreme, maybe you’re operating on within a complete mastery based classroom. That’s where students are completely getting what they need every single moment to find success, you can use models like The Grid Method to make this happen, but if you’re a teacher that’s not yet using that, or not yet using a mastery framework that has helped you create a true mastery focused classroom, what other piece

could you consider? Well, there’s standards-based grading out there, standards-based grading or skills based grading or comped competency based grading, just a number of words that simply mean that you’re assessing the students on what they know. Now there are two or three different elements and ways to do this, but overall it’s a philosophy, you’re trying to assess the students on their knowledge base, rather than task completion, so one element, that mastery piece, where you’re trying to design a learning experiences for your students that assess what they know, and then the other element is kind of like the grading element, how are you going to grade what they know, and then how do those come together? That sounds really large.

However there’s other things that you could consider, too, if those two ideas are not where your head is, how about retakes, have you considered retakes this year? How are you going to present information to your students to allow them to really prove their understanding? And then, if they only get one shot, are you going to give them the multiple opportunities to prove through mastery. Mastery focus is a huge element of how to make a year successful, because it’s big shift for teachers. You’re really asking yourself what is school all about? Is school about, as a teacher, standing in front of the room and just delivering content, but because I hate to tell you, if your job is simply to just stand in front of the room, and deliver content, we’re going to be outdated so fast because Google is going to catch up, because they deliver content.

No, As teachers we are here, to really create learning opportunities for our students that are dynamic and innovative, help them love learning, and then, give them feedback on how that learning is going, so they can better that understanding. So as you’re going through, and trying to figure out how your year is going to be the best year ever, I really do want you to consider that mastery focus, and whether you’re doing something small like considering retakes, or something large like really redoing your classroom to foster a mastery focus, that is a huge piece to really helping yourself have the best year ever. Now what’s another thing you can do, best year ever, not just curriculum right, there’s so much more in the classroom, you need your students to learn, but what about you? What can you do to help yourself have the best year ever? And the biggest element that I can recommend is creating a strong personal learning network, PLN. I like to call it the PLF. Actually I got that from Tara Martin. She’s a fantastic educator, you should totally go follow her on Twitter if you don’t, but Tara Martin, really refers to the PLF, personal learning family, get a family. A family that supports you, and all your endeavors, family that can answer questions, and brainstorm with you, and when you’re having those hard days, find your network, that you can vent about those hard days and find solutions. Because while we need our students to learn, and while there’s so many things we could add it to our classroom, the only way that you’re going to have the best year ever, is actually if you focus on you too. Don’t forget about you. I hope you have the best year ever, thinking about those two things, your
students, and how they’re going to start really taking ownership over their learning, through mastery focused classroom, and you. How can we support you in having the best year ever.

Header image photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.