Monday, June 25, 2012

Don't Stop Trying Bold New Ideas, Even When You Fail

Right before school started last fall, I made a list of several new ideas I wanted to try out in the year ahead.  Some of them had been ruminating in my mind for years, and I felt that I had a unique opportunity in a new situation to build the classroom I had always wanted.  Here is the list:
  1. ACT/SAT Question of the day? Week?
  2. Blended learning - sort of. Khan Academy etc Study Island??
  3. Facebook page
  4. Group work products - Complex Inst principles - butcher paper
  5. Meaningful homework - Use word wall: over the course of the six weeks, students will produce (illustrated guide / puzzle / children's book / song etc) something for all words.  Math puzzles from Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities by Ian Stewart
  6. Experiment with IWB - Battleship!!
  7. Use PI office to get guest speakers
  8. Make infographics into posters- college, education, health, poverty etc
I just rediscovered this over the weekend and realized I accomplished only a couple of these things.  I incorporated Khan Academy into my curriculum, I created Facebook pages for my classes, and at the very beginning of the year I used some puzzles from Dr. Stewart's book as an icebreaker.  I didn't do any of those things particularly well either.  The other ideas disappeared into the ether of a typically busy school year.

Yet despite my failure to successfully implement these ideas, I won't hesitate to tell you that you should never stop trying new things to improve your teaching.  The minute you lose your desire to get better, to struggle to improve, you might as well start looking for a new career.

A few weeks age I told you to make a list of things you need to do better in the future before you forget them.  Consider this an addendum: make a big list of bold new things you want to try out next year.  Better yet, research good ideas over the summer and then make a list just before school starts.

What kind of things would be on your list?  I'd love to read them in the comments.