Tuesday Teacher Tips: Thinking Ahead

Welcome to the Tuesday Teacher Tips series! Each week we’ll highlight teaching and learning resources, ideas to use in the classroom, as well as things to ponder as you go about your teaching day.

This is a busy time of year. Even through all the craziness of the end of the school year and all of the closing details that it entails, this is the time of year that energizes me. No matter how difficult the year was or what struggles I had, I have hope and excitement of what’s to come next fall.

During the school year, as much as I want to study, read and reflect on my teaching practices, I find that each school day is jam-packed with the day-to-day details, meetings, phone calls, and lesson planning. Even if I go to a really fantastic workshop during the school year, it almost just serves as food for thought on what I’d like to do. I usually have difficulty implementing big changes in my teaching during the school year; by the end of the day I simply run out of time.

For me, the summer is when I really have a chance to think and plan for the upcoming year. This is the time I have to soak in information and thoughtfully plan how to make new changes in my classroom.

This year our school implemented a new math curriculum. It was significantly different in its teaching approach than our previous series. We had training before we started teaching and my grade-level team spent a lot of time talking through the series during the year. But really, that first year it’s all about getting through the curriculum to really know it.

Now that I’ve gone through the entire year, my plan is to take the series home and really study it carefully. Questions I ask myself:

  • What went well?
  • What did I have difficulty with?
  • What units did the students struggle with the most?
  • What materials, experiences and information can I find to round out the curriculum and make it meaningful to my students?
  • What resources do I need to improve my expertise to make sure I’m teaching as well as I can?
  • What information did the manual provide that I didn’t have time to read carefully?

With math as my focus for the summer, I’m on the hunt for good professional resources. Do you have any great resources—books, websites, workshops—that you’d like to share. Email and let me know. I’d love to share what I learn from other teachers.