As teachers we are faced with educating a diverse group of learners each and every day. We have an opportunity to inspire them or an opportunity to kill learning and creativity. Every year I try to change up my instruction for a variety of reasons. When you get too comfortable in teaching the same grade/material, I feel as though students are less engaged and it is reflected in their performance. It could partially be do to teachers not having excitement over the curriculum. I want my classroom to an environment where students are excited to learn and showcase their learning in new ways. Is it there yet? No. Are there areas that I’m working on? Of course, but that’s why I continue to grow and learn from others via blogs, tweets, books, and podcasts.
I've noticed that some educators are resistant to change for a variety of reasons: they don't feel comfortable with the curriculum, their methods have worked just fine and why change them, and they don't think new methods will work. I have this to say:
WHY ARE YOU MAKING EXCUSES? WHO IS BENEFITTING FROM YOUR EXCUSES?
Excuses certainly don't benefit student learners. Nothing upsets me more than when teachers make excuses constantly and resist change. Yes, change might mean you can't use a lesson you've used for year or that it might require extra prep and teaching to students. The world is constantly changing, jobs are changing, and if you aren't evolving as an educator, you are holding students back from so many different opportunities. We have to learn to get comfortable getting uncomfortable to constantly be growing in our profession. When we have a growth mindset, it shows to our students.
I'll admit that I teach in a high ability setting. My students are reading above grade level and do well on standardized tests. Yet, no matter that types of students are in my classroom, my expectations for my students are always high. Why should't they be?
When you have low expectations for students, expect low results.
When we stop making excuses and starting expecting more from our students, they can produce some amazing things. I've been told countless times, "that might work in your classroom" or "you can just do that in your room." Really? Have you been in my room daily? Do you know the relationships I have with my students, the conversations we have shared, the hurdles we have faced? If not, quit making excuses and take a risk. Is trying something new going to ruin your whole class? I doubt it. Set high expectations, maybe have an "if only my students could do...." goal and work towards it. Ask others for help and be okay with asking for help.
I am blessed with an administration that is accepting of me taking risks in the classroom. We push each other in our thinking for what is best for students. I know that I can take a risk, have it go in a variety of ways, and not be afraid if it is a total bust.
Taking risks in the classroom can benefit all students. When you try something new with your students, ask them how it went. Students are some of the best evaluators you can find. When I receive feedback from my students, I know how to adjust my instruction, their independent practice, and how they want to showcase their learning. We need to provide students and teachers opportunities to take risks and find the positive in failing. I said “failing” because it is temporary, but if you failed, that’s permanent. We never want them to fail, but we need to be okay with failing because we can grow and learn from it. My student said it best when he said “I’d rather be failing because I know I can fix it.”