Five Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day
How to guarantee that every day is a good day in your classroom
My motto as a teacher is pretty simple: I want to make it better for them than it was for me. Meaning: School was pretty boring for me mostly, when I was a student, and there were a lot of things I just didn’t see the point of or that were entirely unenjoyable. Sometimes, I chose not to show up, but I’d still do well in the class because it didn’t really matter for the grade.
When I first became a teacher, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to make my classroom a place that held value for them and kept them interested. It took a few years to piece it together (“few” being a euphemism), but then it all clicked into place. It was as simple as reflecting on a handful of questions as I lesson-planned to ensure that each and every day was an A sort of day.
Here’s what I would ask myself:
- What will help others lean in to the topic? As teachers, we generally have a curriculum we are supposed to follow. What we do with that curriculum is where there’s potential for magic and spark. For example: at one high school I taught at, it was understood that we would have students read The Old Man and the Sea. I was not thrilled. Personally, I find the book to be rather dry AND I could see that students might have a hard time getting into the basic story. Of course, the purpose behind it was the allegory and the symbolism that added up to the message. And the book contains dreams. Rather than limit ourselves to writing about the allegory of the book itself, instead students wrote to analyze a dream of their own — pulling out the symbolism and thinking on what it all added up to — what was the meaning of their own dream? We still learned from the book, but rather than stay moored there, we used it as an opportunity for an exploration of symbolism in our own lives. Making the learning more relevant to them and about their lives is always a good way to get students to lean in.
- Would I want to do this myself? This is a big one for me. I disliked so many things about high school and found some activities boring or rote (which, as we know, often leads to cheating). One year, when I was teaching World History, a teacher gave me all of his PowerPoints…