Want Results? Do Better, not More.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed as a teacher these days. There always seems to be more things coming at us. New resources, new curriculum, new professional learning, new technologies. It’s no wonder we sometimes put our heads in the sand and keep doing the same things that produce the same results over and over again. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, right?
Teachers, school leaders, district leaders, governments — believe it or not, we all want the same thing. RESULTS. We all want our children to be doing better in school. We all want our classrooms to be places where learning is happening every day for every student. So, governments come up with new initiatives, departments design new curriculum, and districts design professional learning for teachers. WHAT we do in our classrooms, WHAT we use in our classrooms, whether it’s resources or technologies or assessments or strategies, it all feels like MORE on our already overflowing plate. Sure, even some of the best teachers out there are putting covers on their plates and saying, “NO, no more!”
So, let’s talk about what we can do. Let’s slow down and do better. Not more. Just better.
- Think about something in your classroom that you wish was producing better results. Maybe you wish your children liked writing more, talked more, knew letter sounds more, listened to each other more. Pick something.
- Ask yourself why. HINT: You should not know the answer to this question. If you already do, pick something else.
- Identify something you are doing that takes time but is not really producing results. Think about things like laminating and cutting, putting stickers on worksheets, etc.
- Use that time to begin some self-directed professional learning on what you wish you or your students were doing better. Read some research articles, look for a book, ask your colleagues or district leaders for recommendations. Ask the teachers in your PLC or hallway why they think what you’re doing isn’t producing great results.
- Based on your professional learning, try to do something better. If it produces better results and you feel like you’re a better teacher, you know you’re headed in the right direction.
- Continue to self-direct your professional learning. Share your experience with others.
Above all, recognize that you’re a learner too. Not just a teacher. If you are trying to move yourself from beginning to good, from good to excellent, from excellent to expert — you’re on the right track. You’ve got your strengths and your weaknesses, just like your students. You need to set your own goals and work at your own pace, just like your students.
You can keep the lid on your plate for now, but please take your head up out of the sand and take a long, slow look around. Some things are going great, but a few things could be better.
Ultimately, it’s up to you.
Cathy Baker View All →
Dedicated teacher for the past 18 years. Lifelong learner. Newbie blogger. Follow me on Twitter @Baker1973Cathy
Another great post! It made me think about Stephen Katz and his thinking about finding the right inch to go deep (https://thelearningexchange.ca/videos/the-right-inch/). Sometimes we are trying to make things better for kids but the things we work on are not the things that need to change, we go a mile deep on the wrong inch. The other side to that is the mile wide/inch deep situation, which I think is what you are alluding to, as we keep adding stuff; sometimes it’s in taking away we find the thing that makes a difference. Being able to take the risk, let things go and try something new is a way to move forward. Thanks for sharing your thinking!
Cathy, I like your ideas here! I’m wondering about point #2. Sometimes we may think that we know why, but until we make a change, we’re not sure. Sometimes we have to try a couple of changes to make things work. I’m actually about to blog about something similar. I wonder if attempting to make some changes based on our “why” could be just as valuable. And then, based on those changes, could we maybe see what else we need to do/try.
Thanks for giving me more to think about! I always like your weekly blog posts.