The Things We Keep

(Marion) Elise Baughman is a science teacher at McCallum High School where it is her 6th year teaching and her 5th year as CIC. When she isn’t at school, Elise enjoys golf, long walks with her dogs, Doc Holiday and Wyatt, and playing with her cat, Billy the Kit.

As we near the end of the year, I have started reflecting on all the things I tried and the many that failed and am asking myself, what have I learned and what can I keep? How should I re-examine my curriculum and teaching strategies going forward?

The first thing I thought about was the relationships I have built and the classroom culture I want to see next year. Even though this is always something I prioritize, this year has emphasized more than any other how critical these relationships are. If we want students to feel confident taking risks and taking that next step to ownership of their learning, they have to know that they aren’t alone and that their teacher has their back. So what will I keep? I want to continue my SEL focused class openers, expand on my check in system, and make more time for individual meetings with students throughout the year.

Another item that I am still in the process of evaluating, is all of the new materials I created for this year. As I think about each lesson, I think about it in the context of how it went this year and how it might work in a more traditional classroom context and the one thought I keep finding myself back at is the idea similar to that of the sunk cost fallacy. I keep reminding myself that just because I spent a lot of time creating a lesson, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is something I should keep. As our circumstances continue to change, I want to be prepared and comfortable re-evaluating what is truly the best way to teach my content. An obvious example of this is the labs that I worked so hard to make accessible virtually. Some of these took hours to put together, but if the option next year exists to have all students in the classroom, any lab that I could possibly have the students perform hands on will be the better suited lesson.

The last thing I feel I need to examine is my use of technology. This year, it was a necessity to use a wide variety of tech tools to get content to students, make labs and other activities successful, or to just make an attempt at increasing student engagement. If we find ourselves in normal school in the fall, what role will all the tech tools that I have been using need to fill? Will they or should they all still find a place in my classroom? For the answer to this question, I am looking back to a couple of my favorite resources: TIM and SAMR. I want to make sure that the technology I keep is transformational and/or allows me to redefine my curriculum to create novel activities. I don’t want to fall on empty uses of tools just for the sake of using them or because I used them this year (see cost sunk fallacy above). 

All in all it is still not possible to say what next year will bring, but I hope by taking the time now to set clear intentions and goals for what I want to see in my classroom next year, I will be one step closer to accomplishing them.

Terada, Youki. “A Powerful Model for Understanding Good Tech Integration.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 4 May 2020, http://www.edutopia.org/article/powerful-model-understanding-good-tech-integration.

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