I was recently at an education conference and got to know a teacher with an interesting approach to continuous improvement.
She explained to me that every year in the classroom, she commits herself to becoming an expert in some aspect of teaching.
This past year she delved into the world of arts integration, and the year before that focused on creating a flipped classroom.
This approach to teaching makes the start of each year invigorating and helps keep her practice fresh.
Not to mention, she’s now much more effective at serving all of her students in innovative ways.
So, in what aspect of teaching would you want to become an expert on for the new school year?
Spend some time this summer reading up on your new area of expertise, collecting resources, and planning out how to incorporate your new knowledge into your classroom.
Think of it as a project-based learning assignment for yourself!
Not sure what your new area of expertise should be? Here are 5 ideas of where to start.
Using Google Classroom
If you aren’t already using Google Classroom, you’re missing out.
And if you’re already a Google Classroom user, chances are there are plenty of tools and resources yet to explore.
The basics are fairly easy to navigate without too much research, but it’s the add-ons and apps that are the real game changers.
Want an app that will grade a stack of quizzes in a matter of seconds? Meet Flubaroo.
How about a way to leave students verbal feedback on their writing? Download Kaizena.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Supporting English Language Learners
Depending on where in the country you work, there’s a reasonable chance that English is not the first language for all of your students.
Unfortunately, there aren’t always enough hours in the day to make sure that English Language Learners are getting what they need to succeed in a gen-ed classroom.
Thankfully, teachers have been struggling with this issue for decades, and have come up with some pretty novel ways to do this work better.
By better understanding the language learning process and getting to know some of the time-tested approaches to teaching ELLs, you can be sure that next year you provide these students with the best education possible.
Teaching via projects is a great way to breathe new life into your curriculum and challenge students with more complex work.
Nonetheless, a project-based curriculum can easily turn into directionless chaos if not well planned.
Getting it right doesn’t have to require a ton of work if you understand the main principles of effective PBL.
And now’s the perfect time to get to know this fun teaching approach and build meaningful projects into some of the units you’ve been teaching for years.
Get Started: Project Based Learning: The Ups and Downs of Teaching Through Projects
Dig Deeper: Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom
Helping Problem Students
Have you ever had a feeling that you’re not reaching every student?
Or that delivering consequences only seems to escalate a problem?
There’s a good chance that some of your students have previously or are currently dealing with some form of trauma.
From poverty to domestic violence to a loss in the family – trauma amongst kids is more common than many realize.
How teachers interact with students who’ve experienced trauma can have huge repercussions for their performance in the classroom.
Consider rethinking your classroom systems and structures to better create a a safe environment for all students.
Get Started: Trauma Informed Teaching: Helping Unruly Kids By Helping Them Feel Safe in the Classroom
Dig Deeper: Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom
Getting Your Students Excited About Learning
In the classroom of your dreams, students would want to learn for the sheer joy of learning.
How can you get there? By developing intrinsic motivation.
Easily one of the hottest questions in education right now, there are tons of resources available on how to boost intrinsic motivation for students.
Most researchers agree it’s a careful mix of relatedness, autonomy, and mastery.
Why not spend your summer learning about this powerful trifecta and planning how to embed them into your own classroom.
If none of these topics grab your attention, there are dozens of others you can choose from.
Taking the time to do the legwork now will make next fall immensely easier!