I love attending conferences. It’s a time to connect with colleagues, share stories, and get new ideas. One of my all-time favorite activities for students was inspired by a summer conference. I no longer remember the name of the session -- something about reading -- but I was inspired to try a new idea. Over the years, I’ve tweaked the guidelines, but the basic idea is that students share what they learned from a book by presenting their knowledge through items they have in their bag.
If you’re like me at this point in the summer, your head is filled with exciting ways to enhance your lessons -- inspired by professional development over the summer, books you’ve read, your professional learning network, or your own genius ideas. But so often when school starts, all those exciting ideas are put on the back burner as you prepare for the new school year.
This year, don’t let that happen. This year, try just one new thing.
I know every argument against trying something new. It’s too much work. What if it fails? What if the students don’t like it? I don’t know how to use (insert app, software, hardware, tool here). There isn’t time in the schedule. Where do I even start? I hear you. But just as we encourage our students to take risks and try new things, to fail and learn from that failure, I encourage you to try something new this year anyway.
Start with just one new idea.
Remember how excited you were at the end of the conference or workshop or book? Remember the rush you felt talking to colleagues about how you could enhance your lessons with that idea? Even thinking about it now makes you want to add it to your lesson plans. That excitement is contagious. Implementing a new idea is part of the joy of teaching, and that joy will spread to your students.
Be ready for failure.
The lesson may not go perfectly the first time. It may be a total flop! That’s OK. We expect our students to work through new concepts, and you can be a great example, showing students how you reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and what you’ll do to improve next time.
Make it a habit.
Once you've reconnected with the excitement of making your new lesson a reality and have worked through the bumps of making it the best possible lesson, try another idea. Then another. We talk about wanting students to be lifelong learners. Model that for your students. Let your growth mindset inspire theirs.
Pick just one idea and run with it. Learn how to use (insert app, software, hardware, tool here). The lesson might not go smoothly the first time, but remember you are showing your students how to be lifelong learners. Just think of the amazing ideas you’ll accumulate over the next few years and, more importantly, how much you’ll inspire your students with your own growth mindset.