Going back to work after a holiday break is difficult enough without worrying whether our ideas for the new semester are big and bold enough to dazzle our learners and make us feel like good teachers. In this post, I’m sharing my thoughts on going small and actually making a big difference.
As teachers, we spend an unbelievable amount of time taking care of our students. We plan lessons that’ll appeal to their interests, cater to their needs, engage them cognitively and emotionally. We want them to learn, have fun, bond with their classmates and develop a friendly rapport with us. Here’s where the pressure to constantly come up with newer, and bigger, and better kicks in. This way of thinking often leads to perceiving oneself as a teaching machine that has to deliver and has no other mode than constantly chasing the next big idea. And I just don’t want to ever get wrapped up in feeling like this again.
Then, there is the outside pressure as well. You know how people often tell us to “go big or go home” or to dream big? As sexy as it sounds, I’ve always found it quite overwhelming and frustrating. How big is big enough? How bold is bold enough?
Still, not being a revolutionary doesn’t mean one is not interested in growing, improving, experimenting, and changing. Similarly, not taking many PD courses doesn’t mean one in unambitious, complacent or lazy. This is definitely the category of teachers I fall into. I wrote about introducing small changes to my teaching two years ago when I described my attempt to break away from my teaching rut. I’ve remained true to the idea of tweaking my approach to teaching, lesson planning, and taking care of my mental well-being as a teacher rather than investing time and energy in a huge overhaul of everything I do. Baby and the bath water, right?
What do I mean by small changes?
It could be anything from the starting point of planning a lesson to getting out of my comfort zone when delivering the lesson, to walking a mile in my students’ shoes when doing an activity with them.
What do I mean by big difference?
The most significant result of going small is allowing some fresh air into my teaching without feeling the pressure of “making it”. To me, the tweaks have to be small enough to be doable, varied enough to suit different purposes, needs and even moods I might be in, and free enough to generate no extra expenses. Most importantly, they can’t generate extra stress and pressure but excitement, curiosity, and anticipation.
Below you can download 20 different ideas I tried over the past year and a half. I didn’t want to call it a planner or a challenge so the working title for this collection is Tweak-a-Class. If you are looking for something refreshing and fun to try for yourself, give it a try.