It doesn’t matter if you taught for 20 years. Just don’t teach one year 20 times.
Having taught for 13 years, there were moments in my career where I felt stagnant teaching the same thing and the same way because everyone had to do it a certain way. It drove me insane. I hated to follow what everyone was doing. Even Albert Einstein said the following.
After that moment in time, I needed to take matters into my own hands and dig deep in believing and acting on what I perceive education should look like because our learners ability to make decision and based those decisions on what they learned matters most. When I got hired to teach S.T.E.A.M., I felt free from the chains of standards, testing, and seating by rows (UGH!!!). I felt free to explore the world of design, entrepreneurship, collaboration, imagination, reflections, agency, and exhibition. This opportunity gave me an opportunity to carve a niche that doesn’t really happen in a traditional classroom setting. Even Sir Ken Robinson said the following,
When learning has a deeper purpose beyond getting straight As, satisfying their parents, ranking themselves amongst their peers, and getting into the college of their choice, the learners are able to focus on what matters most which is eventually pursuing learning the things that matters most to them . . . THEIR PASSION which eventually and potentially translates into THEIR FUTURE.
My practice has evolved throughout the years and I found out that my evolution is kind of like investing in stocks. Sometimes you improve. sometimes you fall on your face, you improve again, and fall again. I forgot how many times I fell but with every iteration, there was a moment of reflection, action research, gaining a different perspective, and tenacity to try something new even though I feared how my class or administration will take it. I remembered the push back but I had a stubborn character. And yes, there were moments where I was wrong or ineffective. Those were attempts and learning moments. At least I tried. These trials led me to a particular learning path that I wanted to pursue.
My practice has evolved in the following manner:
- Learning how to create a lesson plan and unit plan and teaching lesson to lesson,
- Attempting to make lessons interesting and fun,
- Designing hands-on lessons
- Having trouble with classroom management and engagement
- Realizing that I fell back to being”sage on the stage” because it took a long time to make lessons fun and engaging,
- Backward Planning each of my units like crazy. Now Chemistry is fully codified.
- Exploring and attempting to engage students in project based learning,
- Exploring Moodle and blended learning. I finally rented a server and developed teamaringo.org.
- Teaching by the book and the test because our Chemistry department had to,
- Integrating Competency Based Learning,
- Exploring and attempting to engage students in project based learning
- Implementing a fully project based learning STEAM class. Interesting enough, nobody knew how STEAM was going to look like,
- Integrating Acosta’s Habits of Minds,
- Expanded to STEAM program: STEAM:Innovation, STEAM: Spark, STEAM:Theater, STEAM:Coding
- Exploring and designing a STEAM course that is personalized.
- Integrating Design Thinking
- Integrating Cultural Competency and Restorative Justice Strategies
- Integrating growth mindset
- Replaced STEAM:Spark with STEAM:Gaia and added STEAM:Robotics
- Integrating Game Mechanics, Epic Adventures, and Motivational Systems.
- Who Knows. But it sounds exciting. I can’t wait!
It doesn’t matter if you taught for 20 years. Just don’t teach one year 20 times. I refused to teach the same way as education is starting a renaissance. Knowing this, I feel empowered to keep researching and reading constantly to see what other teachers are doing. This hunger to constantly research and read was my summer work this year. For the sake of our learners, we have to change our pedagogy with the times or else we will leave our students behind.
How are you evolving in your practice? How is your evolution affecting how your students are learning?