As parents look for the best deals on school supplies and kids shift from enjoying summer to looking forward to fall break, teachers look forward to another year of draining and rewarding work. To help out these teachers, I have consulted the stars for guidance on a successful year. Great teachers are made, not born, so I have used general descriptors to help teachers find the advice they need.
The Planner: Your strengths outnumber your weaknesses, and they are often counted among them. Plan for flexibility. Plan for kindness. Don’t let the calendar push you or your kids around.
The Counter-downer: Is it discipline that allows you to strive towards the far off goal? Don’t lose sight of the ground you stand on as you look to the distance. Connect with the kids and let them carry you from day to day. (If you really need a countdown clock, you can set one up here.)
The Maker: This is your year! While the rest of the world is building the plane in flight, you are weaving your own parachute on the way down. If you are working in maker education this year, be sure to share. Find other teachers and connect with them because we can’t navigate this new educational space alone. Never forget that no matter how much people talk about innovation, education is a system designed to crush change and grind it into status quo.
The Dreader: The cloud on the horizon is the dust kicked up by the kids and teachers running full speed into this year. The view from the back of the pack never changes, so why not switch it up. Instead of waiting for the kids to make a mistake, empower them to take more chances. How do your students tell stories out of school? Could they use these same tools to tell the stories of their learning?
The Meddler: Your ability to imagine a different and better world is your superpower, time to put on the white hat and do some good in the world. Get ahead of the curve and just make things better for everyone, and work elbow to elbow with the happiest people on campus. Surrender to their good nature and become that person to others on campus.
The Data Driven: You can see an endless stream of information that can tell us more than we ever could have known before, and you must remember that the goals all exist individually, disaggregated, at the student level. The data matters because it describes students, and we have to keep their humanity visible. Be sure you get all the evidence you can by collecting all the student’s work with ScanSnap.
The Day-Dreamer: Don’t sweat it, you have all the time in the world. I mean you have all of their online profiles set up right? Scratch has those new educator accounts that can help you keep track of what kids are doing without having to direct them. In fact, if you haven’t thought hard about empowering your kids to make more choices about their learning, this is the year. You can bring more voices into your room and get students invested in the work they are doing. Ultimately you can get them working harder and learning more by working smarter. Check out Don Wettrick’s book Pure Genius for some more inspiration.
The Super Geek: The watch word is accessibility. Be a hero for every super geek in school, by clearly keeping it real and working closely with other teachers who are not the geek elite. This cool tech stuff has the biggest impact when the kids always have access, so help your teammates get on board by making it easy to participate and learn.
The Labcoat: We get it, and we love it. Just a couple points: 1. Before you do the tesla coil demo have all the kids put their phones and tablets in the hallway. 2. Don’t forget the “No Dry Ice” rule for design your own experiments day. 3. If you have not used slow motion and timelapse in data collection you just aren’t living. Check out Slo Mo Guys.
The School Mascot: Thank you for learning all 80 verses of the school song, really. Now what we need you to do is get kids building more mascot costumes. Convince the administration you need a couple of hundred bucks for a STEAM challenge and spend it on foam and fur. If you have any kids into Parkour, you should recruit them also- likewise the dance teacher. Once you get some kids working on costumes, there is very little time left before you need to start organizing the whole staff flash mob for homecoming.
The Clerk: I am sure that someone has already turned you onto Google Classroom and the power of Sheets to help organize and track the learning in your space. Your challenge this year is to have the kids make more meaning of their own data and results. Give them command of the inbox and have them reflect on their progress. Ask them to tell you what they have learned and where they were challenged. Use the classroom data as a jumping off point for a dialogue about learning and achievement.
The First Follower: The world needs you to light the way. Find the teachers doing awesome stuff and help them out and follow along. Be smaless in your support and soon others will join you. It is hard work to be awesome all by yourself, join others in their awesome! There are regional groups of teachers waiting to help you find awesome. One of my favorites is CUE.
MFA, Ed.D., K-5 Technology Integration Specialist & Google Certified Teacher
Author of “Beyond The Hour of Code”