This time of year can be challenging for teachers because it is the time of testing, test prepping, and yearning for that upcoming spring break. Students begin counting the days until summer and graduation. Last night at our dinner table my teens had the number down pat! 58 more actual school days and 93 total days till graduation. The school year is a roller coaster of ups and downs, fatigue and energy, testing and “thanks goodness that test is over!”, ups and downs.
I encourage you to stay fresh in your ideas and teaching during this time of year no matter how much your neighboring teacher is complaining of exhaustion and frustration. Stay true to your passion to educate and engage your students. Here are four ways to stay current, excited, and fresh in your teaching.
- Being a connected educator on Twitter is one of the best things I have done as an educator. Twitter feeds me new ideas, brings new people into my professional life, and inspires me to continue my own learning. Try participating in a Twitter chat to discover new ideas and connect with educators just like you. Check out this list of online educational chats happening everyday on Twitter. If being connected on Twitter doesn’t push you to learn something new everyday, nothing will! Remember that if you are new to Twitter it might feel a little slow at first, but once you start popping into chats and following the right people, it will pick up momentum. I tell new teachers to Twitter to click on who I am following and then start following those people. It isn’t perfect, but its a start to finding the right educators to follow.
- Edcamps are a stress free and fun way to learn from other professionals and its completely learner driven. Edcamps have no set agenda and anyone can share information and lead sessions. Teachers, administrators, and other educators are welcome to come. Edcamps can be found across the nation. Check out the list of Edcamps here.
- Sometimes inspiration is right in front of us. Ask your students what their passion project would be and what it would look like. I have seen passion projects, or genius hour completely revive a classroom with excitement and interest. Read this teacher’s blog about her middle school genius hour. We get so caught up in teaching to a scripted curriculum that we can miss opportunities to engage students more deeply in content for which they are passionate. Letting your students lead the way can energize you and your students. I see a lot of teacher wait to begin until after all the testing is over. I say go ahead and jump in now! You will be amazed at what your students come up with.
- Taking an online course can inspire you in a couple of ways. First, it provides CEU’s or CCU’s, (insert your preferred acronym here). These credit hours usually help you move increase your salary. Who doesn’t like the idea of higher pay?! And secondly, you will be able to learn some great information in a really short time. Quality online courses are well organized, packed full of great content, and thoroughly engaging as well as available 24/7. Check out the online courses at edcelerate.org for educational technology courses for about half the price of most online classes. Their classes are accredited through Brandman University, in California.
Take heart that spring is here and keep your teaching fresh with these ideas. What is your favorite way to stay current and engaged with teaching? I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts!