Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Five Things I'd Do Differently in the Classroom

I enjoy the work I do with Responsive Classroom. I get to travel the world, inspire educators and change the educational landscape for thousands of children, and give and receive honest and empathetic feedback. The conversations I have with educators across the country always makes me consider what I'd do if I were to return to the classroom. These are just a few things I've been thinking about.

1) Give clearer directions. I'd want to make sure that my students always clearly know what they have to do and why.

2) Be a better listener. I used to think I was a good listener. I now realize that I have s tendency to want to solve your problem before I've truly heard everything you have to say. I have learned some valuable questioning strategies that could make this happen!

3) Try not to take things personally. I learned to do this with student behavior during my last years as a classroom teacher. I would also transfer that to colleagues and student families. Teaching is such a personal profession because we infuse so much of ourselves into our work. It's important to remember that someone disagreeing with you is just that - disagreeing.

4) Be more assertive. In the past I heard my colleagues say unkind things about me and did not stand up for myself. I was in evaluative situations that made me incredibly comfortable and said nothing. If I were to return to the classroom I'd make sure I'd speak up for myself and at the very least say, "Stop."

5) Use time more wisely. I used to think that the more time I spent on my job of teaching - planning, creating things, coming in early or staying late - was what defined me as a great teacher. I have since learned that I can be a great teacher without spending 80 hours a week on teaching. I can teach, plan creative and innovative lessons, and still have a personal life in 50 hours or less. Sometimes, less is more and keeping things simple can be incredibly powerful for students.

At this point, I am uncertain whether I would ever return to the classroom. If I were these five items would be my focus for transforming my teaching.