Reinventing the Wheel – Improving Past Practice

One advantage of entering your second or multiple year(s) of teaching is being able to go back and reuse materials you had previously gathered and created. The mad and desperate scrambling for resources during the first year of teaching a subject is what many would attribute as being the most stressful part of the job. Having a bank of lessons/activities/assessments allows you to devote more energy and thought to the many other aspects of teaching.  As everyone is aware however, the need to consistently update, revise or in some cases, entirely revamp your program is a necessity. Apart from being an obvious benefit to your students, it is a way to push your own limits of creativity. I’ve found that this task is much easier and productive if undertaken sooner rather than later. It can be particularly tempting when your best plans and intentions go awry to want to immediately block out the experience or at least relegate it to the realm of distant memory with “well, I know I won’t be doing that again”. Without belabouring the “reflective process”, I try to efficiently take stock of the success or failure of activities and assignments as soon as they are completed by jotting down impressions on a sticky note and then adhering them to my printed master copy. At the same time and using the same sticky note procedure, I also solicit the input of students and ensure that everyone has the chance to comment at some point during the year. At the end of the process, I have a bank of input available when it comes time to plan for the following year. Sometimes, “reinventing the wheel” can be as simple as changing the assignment pairing (from an individual to small group) or restructuring the order in which things were taught or assessed. Of course, this process can be more stimulating and interesting if you have the opportunity to debrief and compare with your grade team or teaching partner, all of whom will bring a different perspective and insight to the table.