Friday, October 10, 2014

Thinking About Flops

I write a "Tiger Tech" newsletter every other week for our staff, and publish it via Smore. The following is a piece I wrote about a month ago. 

Have you noticed how students seem to be really well-behaved during the first two weeks of the school year, until the third week rolls around and you find yourself dealing with more and more behavior issues? At first they're small things, like a couple of students whispering in the background when they should be listening, but then you suddenly have your first major "confrontation" of the semester. We all know that how we deal with these challenges early on can have implications for the entire school year.

It seems to me that trying something new in your classroom, whether it be technology-related or a different teaching practice, follows a similar path. The first few weeks can be exciting and full of high expectations, but it doesn't take long to hit that first stumbling block. I had a lesson last week that took a lot of thought and planning on my part. Not only did it use technology that was new to me, but I was also exploring a different way of introducing content to students. To make a long story shorter, it flopped. The students didn't engage in the topic like I thought they would, one of the tech pieces gave us trouble, and when it was all said and done, I don't think it promoted the student thinking I was hoping for.

While my knee-jerk reaction is to throw up my hands in exasperation when these set-backs occur, I try to focus on having a Growth Mindset, knowing I can improve the lesson through additional reflection, practice, and time. After all, isn't this the same expectation I have for my students when they struggle?

So as we approach the midterm of Quarter 1 and that "beginning of the school year" glow starts to dim, I encourage you to give yourself a break! Not everything new you try in the classroom will work perfectly the first time. But don't let those set-backs stop you from moving forward either. After all,

"If we only did things that were easy, we wouldn't actually be learning anything. We'd just be practicing things we already knew." - David Dockterman

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