instant applause

Accept two things right now. One, there will be no end to your planning. And two, you will plan way more than you use, but you will need all of it.

So much of what we do blends into the backdrop of our pedagogy. Marking, lesson planning, resource management, meetings, the list goes on and on for the items that rarely see the light of day. Or the desktop of a student.

Nonetheless, the essential building blocks of our trade often exist in microscopic spaces. Cognitive calisthenics if you will. Necessary organizational vitamins. Keystroke jumping jacks. And no matter the times you redesign a particular Hyperdoc or lesson plan, your quest for best work should be open-ended and connected. You know these efforts are working when your community starts to change, the students level up and the grind hits its flow.

“So far, the best idea I’ve heard about building grit in kids is something called growth mindset. This is an idea developed at Stanford University by Carol Dweck, and it is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed. That it can change with your effort.”  Angela Duckworth

Every experience that impacts you, imprints on your teaching. I do believe that teachers draw from the storyboard of their life to both inspire themselves and their students.

What we include as relatable information is relative to mindset and mindset can two-step between closed and growth depending on context. Some teachers teach from the heart, some from the textbook. Regardless, you get to choose, and your choices will influence the teacher you become.

I remember how elated I was the first time a colleague lent me a completed binder for a course that I had never taught before. I actually giggled thinking about how this kindness would free me up so that I could get to all of the other stuff I faced as a new teacher.  But, I quickly found myself wrestling with their ideas, bruising my inspiration on their method, and choking on the flow of their courseware. The effort, as I was starting to see, to bend their course to my will would be impossible. So I made a few notes and handed the binder back the next day.

“It has taken me years of struggle, hard work, and research to learn to make one simple gesture, and I know enough about the art of writing to realize that it would take as many years of concentrated effort to write one simple, beautiful sentence.” Isadora Duncan

It will take many years for you to develop your craft to the point that someone might make a mistake of calling it effortless or easy. I know that the binder I borrowed worked for that instructor, I saw it in action as I sat in their classroom and witnessed their craft.

And as I saw the plans come to life, the comprehension gaps that I fell into and the storyboard that I did not live myself became evident. The binder fairly represented the curricular expectations, but what it could not do was transform me into that teacher or connect with the learner that I knew I was.

Sometimes you don’t know that you were on the right track, unless something points out that now you aren’t.

Right now, could you..?

  • Explain in simple terms, the organizational strategy in your course designs? This will pinpoint your intentionality and understanding of both the class context and the curriculum.
  • Draw on personal points of reference that connect to your courseware? This will bring forth authenticity and opportunity for teachable moments with students and self.
  • Map out the storyboard of each course you offer, visualizing the sequence of events as you imagine it. This will ignite your vision and future cast your ideas into the next iteration of your lesson planning.