Bright ideas for tech-savvy educators, right to your inbox

Staying Engaged in the Home Stretch

Monday, May 19, 2014 -- Scott Sterling

May is upon us. Testing is complete. Field days and other end of the year activities are being planned.

Just like the horse races that are taking place bi-weekly, the school year is down to the final stretch. This is when the announcer, as well as everyone in your school, is starting to get really excited—perhaps even yelling.

It’s easy to mail it in at this point in the year. Frankly, a lot of your colleagues will. But here’s some ways to keep yourself engaged and avoid videos every day.

Try something new

We talk about a lot of new ideas and technologies in this blog, too many to link by themselves. Just scroll through the posts and get lost in the knowledge. If you’re a regular reader, you might have come upon some that sounded interesting but you simply didn’t think it was the right time of year or right group of kids to try.

May is the right time of year. You’re probably already done covering your standards and now the curriculum is based on enrichment and tying up loose ends. You can test out that new pedagogical theory, like flipped or project-based learning, or a new app or website and not have as much affect as you would have in, say, November. If it doesn’t work for you, move on. If it does, incorporate it into your bag of tricks for next year.

Try something dangerous

One May, I experimented with self-directed learning in my classroom after reading about it in a book. I handed over the reins and let the kids decide what they wanted to learn, how, and in what way they would demonstrate their knowledge. It scared the devil out of me and I gave it a 75% likelihood of failure (it did), but I needed to see it for myself.

Trying new things is how you grow as a person and a professional. Even things that, in hindsight, were pretty stupid can also be learning experiences. I found out just how responsible my students were (not much). If it wasn’t for May, I would have never known.

Try to create something new

Teachers are creative by nature. You don’t survive in a job in which all 180 days are different unless you are able to adapt quickly.

Take something that really annoys you about the job, your curriculum, or your classroom and fix it using your creativity. The pioneers of flipped learning thought that spending class time lecturing wasn’t nearly as valuable as being able to guide students in a more interactive way, so they fixed it. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that their first tests of the new system occurred in May.