Thursday, June 9, 2016

Planning for Next Fall

Saw this one just a bit ago via Twitter...

Can I get an "amen" from my fellow educators?

I wonder sometimes why some of my lessons really "work" while others feel more lifeless. And, yeah...sometimes they totally flop. What makes a lesson really engaging? What makes a lesson...less engaging?

Is it something I said? Something I did? (Or didn't do?) Was there something else on my mind distracting me from giving my full attention to the teaching? To the planning? How did I structure the lesson--just right? Something off? Was my pace right on, or too fast, or too slow? Did I have the right expectations for students' background knowledge and skill level, or was I assuming too much, or too little of them? Was it the fact that I had that third cup of coffee right before class? (For good or ill?)

I think summer is a good time for us as educators to take stock of where things are. Yes, the change of pace is good for our mental health. Yes, the opportunity to do other things and prioritize things differently than we might during the academic year is a good thing. But I always try to make some specific time during my summer months for reflection on things that went well (or not so well) in the previous year, and to make some plans for things I can/should/must change up for the coming year.

So here's the assignment for you, my fellow educators, should you choose to accept it:
  1. Picture a lesson you taught at some point this year that made you feel like the picture above. (You #rockstarteacher, you...)
  2. Try to put yourself back into that situation. What made the lesson so engaging for your students? Was there something you did in the planning, instruction, management, etc. that made it so effective?
  3. A NASTY QUESTION HERE --> Would you like your students to be that engaged in learning every day, and not just once in a while? Think through this's nasty, but important, I think. Your honest answer determines the next step...
  4. (Here's the hard part...) Are you willing to commit to that level of work on an ongoing basis? Are you willing to do the hard work of doing what is best for getting kids engaged in their learning, and not just what it expedient for you?
  5. What can you do already this summer to build the groundwork for that? Are there curriculum areas that need shining up? Are there exemplars that need to be created? Are there tech tools to learn more about? Are there books/blogs/journals/articles to read for ideas?
I am planning time for this summer to do some of that hard reflection. I know there are a couple of areas of a couple of my courses that I can improve.

I hope you'll join me in the work of planning for next fall already this summer. Please comment below if you're taking the challenge!

Image by Dave Mulder [CC BY-SA 2.0]


  1. Thanks for the challenge, Dave! It's summer, and I'm not teaching, so it's hard work to think like this...

  2. Yep. Keep my notebook by me so I can write down things I think of. I'm reflecting on what went well (or didn't) and I jot down ideas for next year. I know the areas I want to improve, so I just have to keep plugging away!

    1. I am not at all surprised to hear it, Deb! Reflective practice at its finest--I would expect nothing less from you, my friend! :-) Thanks for taking the time to comment.