Did you see the cute new border that Mrs. Jones put up? Did you see that Mrs. Martinez has a new class theme this year? What about Mr. Liu? Did you see how he changed the way his desks are arranged? The beginning of a new school year brings many changes. New students, perhaps a different school, a different grade level, a new program to implement, or even a change in your faculty, to name a few. All these changes can be exciting and difficult all at the same time. How do you approach change? What is the biggest change you’ve ever made in your class? Why did you make that change? What impact did you hope it would have on your students? Were you successful? What changes would you still like to implement in your teaching? What changes will you face this school year and how will you handle them?
As you begin another school year, you probably spent some time over the summer reflecting on changes you wanted to make for the upcoming school year. Yes, I know that teachers have the summers off, but I also know that teachers spend a lot of time thinking about school and their students, even when it’s summer break. Notice I didn’t call it summer vacation, because that’s not a real thing for most teachers. Teachers often spend time during summer break in professional development classes or trainings. They learn ways to improve their teaching so they can be more effective in their classrooms. As teachers learn new strategies or new ways to teach, they have to decide what changes, if any, they will make in their classrooms. This isn’t always an easy feat.
Change is not something that comes easy for most of us. Just because we know there is a better way doesn’t always mean that we choose the better way. Sometimes we choose to do something because it’s easy and we’re comfortable with it. In education the winds of change are always blowing. Teachers feel bombarded with this “new” program or that “new” approach. They often feel that change is forced on them. They may not see a need to change the way they do things. So even if change is something that would better them as teachers, or bring about more success to their students, they might be resistant to change.
The reality is that if we want to improve we need to take a step back and see where we can make changes that will effect the improvement we desire. Don’t we learn the most from our failings? Don’t we want our students to make mistakes, or even fail, so they have an opportunity to learn from their mistakes? Have you ever had a student who was so afraid to make a mistake that it paralyzed him or her from even trying? We need to have the faith to fail. The courage to try something new. The determination to change our teaching practices to best teaching practices.
So what changes will you make? Will you change out that bulletin board that’s been there five years? Will you change the way you arrange your classroom? Will you change your approach to how you teach math or reading? Will you implement new classroom management strategies? Where can you improve as a teacher? What change is going to better not only you, but also your students this upcoming school year? Take time each day to reflect on your teaching. Ask yourself, what changes can I make to ensure success for all students?
Take a risk. Try something new. If you’re not seeing the results you’d like to see in your students’ data, stop teaching the way you’ve always taught. You might be surprised at what change will bring. What are you waiting for? Try something new today!