Three Days In…

Maybe you’re thinking about making serious changes in your classroom. Maybe you’re thinking about overturning the status quo. Maybe you’re thinking about doing activities that wake your kids up instead of putting them to sleep. Maybe you’re thinking about doing activities that encourage partnership instead of forcing them to keep their ideas to themselves.

Maybe there’s something holding you back. Fear of parents. Fear of administrators. Fear of the kids. Fear of the other teachers. Fear of yourself.

Holding back and waiting is the greatest mistake. Kim Saxe, who I’m convinced is one of the great teachers of our time, answered my fears about bringing design thinking processes to my school — even with administrative encouragement — with a dismissive wave of her hand.

“Just start. Start Monday, the day you get back. You’ll be tired from your flight. The kids will want something to do. Don’t give them another worksheet — give them a design project to do. Write up the criteria on the plane.”

Nike — the ancient Greek goddess of victory, not the shoe — says “Just do it.”

There’s a heap of curriculum tools out there, a heap of assessment tools out there, and a heap of more useful, scientifically-proven ways to empower kids to do great work. Maybe it’s that writing project you’ve always thought about, or that geometry unit that somehow never made the grade, or that “design a medieval castle” project.”

Whatever it is that’s eating at the back of your brain, that says, “let me out and teach me to the kids”… let that voice have its day in the class. Heck, give it a week.

The Buddha said there were only two mistakes in the world: “The second worst mistake is not finishing. The worst mistake is not to begin.”

Start today.

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  1. Andrew, I went to a conference last week hosted by Nancie Atwell. She runs a school in Edgecomb, ME called the Center for Teaching and Learning, and she’s one of the gurus of the writing workshop. The conference changed my life and will change my teaching. Check her stuff out:

    I love feeling excited and intellectually nourished!

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