Summer’s on—and it‘s a great time to reassess.
I know, you thought you were done with “assessment” for a while. But now is the perfect time for a teacher to revisit the past year and re-evaluate a few things.
First, classroom organization.
When I have a desk of paper piles and a roomful of squirmy students in front of me, there’s no time to organize. I’m in survival mode. Been there. Done that.
So how can I avoid it? Try asking yourself a few questions:
- What worked well last year?
- What didn’t?
- Why did those piles accumulate?
- What can I do to avoid that next year?
Sometimes, just a different perspective brings answers. I had an aide one year and I found it extremely difficult to teach and keep her busy at the same time. In retrospect, I needed to figure out how to let go of a few things and give her some work.
I had to work past my mindset of “I can do that” and “I’ve always done that” and “That’s my job” to “What can I give up so I can dedicate more time to being really effective?”
My file system isn’t alphabetical, even though I am an English teacher. Instead, I have handouts, notes, etc., filed in the order of the curriculum. If you don’t teach Petrarch and Shakespeare, it’s hard to know which we study first. Faced with the daunting task of redoing my entire file cabinet alphabetically so someone else could file for me, I came up with a few alternate ideas:
I made a master list of the subjects we study, in order. Then I checked it by my file cabinet. Once I was sure they agreed, I assigned each file folder a little numbered sticker. I typed up the master list with the subjects numbered to match the order in my file cabinet. My aide could find Cyrano de Bergerac on the list, see that it’s #25, and find the file folder numbered 25 in the cabinet.
I also considered putting dividers in the file cabinet according to units or time periods. If I put a post-it on a handout with the time period, this would help my aide narrow down the section of the file cabinet.
These two things took some time, but not near as much as reordering my entire file cabinet. And they were organizational methods that carried over for the next year too, so they paid off time-wise.
One more area for summer reassessment: Substitute plans.
It’s much easier for me to think outside the curriculum and come up with creative ideas in the summer. I like to leave generic emergency sub plans, just in case. In the summer, I invariably happen on a story, a poem, an article that evokes this response: “Oh, I wish we had time to do that in the school year.” A perfect subject for emergency sub plans!
So, dust off that assessment mindset, put on your thinking cap, and get creative with solutions now – it’ll pay off in the fall.
Post written by Laura Groves
Photo credit flicker, creative commons