We, my class and I, began this school year with a new schedule and new curriculum. Our schedule took away our ELA block. I know only have my students for 51 minutes each day, instead of 88. Our new curriculum wasn't exactly chosen by our site teachers (which could be a whole other blog post). Nevertheless, as a good teacher and employee, I want to teach that new curriculum in a shorter amount of time the best I can and reach students.
Reflecting back on how the first semester with a new curriculum went...I can truly say it was a challenge. Like anything new, I wasn't completely comfortable or familiar. It was like my first year of teaching all over again. Well, minus the lack in classroom management. Anyway, it was difficult. The material wasn't a favorite for my students and the material's focus seemed very repetitive-meaning the same skills were being addressed over and over again. Plus, it also seemed as if there was only content and not really teaching the skill to students. It has been incredibly confusing.
Additionally, I didn't have ways (yet) to make the lessons more engaging. Like I mentioned, the material wasn't super high interest for my students. Not all lessons are, however, I can MAKE them more interesting by adding something to the material. I just couldn't seem to figure anything "cool" to do with what I was given. I was lacking in my Teach like a Pirate ways.
So how do you deal with the struggle?
Well, winter break came and that helped. I needed to regroup and really think about my students, my class, and my approach. What I was doing last semester wasn't really working. Sure, I was "teaching the curriculum", but I haven't felt like I was reaching my students. I didn't feel like I was casting true knowledge that will last them for future years. I definitely haven't felt like I was inspiring them like I have in years past.
So what do I do differently?
Doing what's best. I will do what is best for my students. Will I still use the curriculum? Of course, but I will supplement when and where it is needed. I will pull outside resources, I will add interactive technology that builds upon knowledge, teaches new knowledge, and helps my students explore their world while connecting them to others. I am going to do what is best for students.
I am going to integrate strategies, techniques, and skills that I have seen work with students. I am going to bring in students interests as materials for our lessons. I am going to reconnect with other passionate educators to push me to do and be better. I will make learning student driven and focus on "If the system is set up for learning, then you will need to get out of sts way or they will bowl you over" Alice Keeler.
I will also join fellow educators that are as passionate as I am about education, about growing, about learning. I need to get back into conversations, conferences, and those that push me to be better. I love my family and kids, but I miss my professional network! I miss Twitter chats! I miss the knowledge and sharing of ideas! I need to get back so that I can do what is best for students.
2017 is my year to get back to doing what I know is best for students!