Fix, Create, Save, Think

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Jul
  • 17
  • 2008

Use this summer to fix things. That handout full of typos? That paper you typed up last year that uses a semicolon instead of a colon? That lesson plan that started strong and ended with a fizzle? Fix them.

That handout you wished you’d given before your lecture? That killer video/audio/comic intro to the first unit of study? Create them.

Those sample assignments you wished you could have given to the students as examples of what you want? Those horrible final projects turned in? Save them.

The reason that looking at something 200 years old is important? Your pat answer for why students are doing this assignment? Think of them. Then be sure you live up to them.

While you’re at it, look through your gradebook from last year. The work you scratched your head at what it was to assess? Throw it away. The homework you never graded? Don’t assign it again. The assignment titles that don’t make any sense to you now? Find a better way.

Step up and bring your best to the game. Get rid of typos as soon as you see them, even if that means typing out the entire page yourself. Redesign the handout so it makes more sense. Give students room for what you know they need room (notes, answers, etc.). Get rid of meaningless filler in favor of activities that sharpen skills you need sharpened.

So fix, create, save, and think about your classroom this summer. There’s still time to do plenty of planning. But get ready to put plans into action.

P.S. What if a new school model had the kids in the same room all day and the teachers moved? Then the classroom space wouldn’t be art or science or foreign language, it would be a space for learning.


1. Elona Hartjes says:

[7/23/2008 - 5:14 pm]

I thought of the idea about the teachers moving instead of the kids, but then what do you do about equipment in the science lab or art room. I guess there could be some type of partial rotation. I don’t understand why having students rotate means that the classroom wouldn’t be for learning. could you expand on that please.

2. Todd says:

[7/23/2008 - 9:57 pm]

I’m suggesting that our classrooms are often seen as an English, math, or history area — that our rooms often reflect only a single subject as far as students see things. Sure, it’s about learning the subject, but it’s about that one subject first and foremost. “This is my art room and over there is my music room.” Teachers rotating instead of students might encourage a shift in the way students consider the classroom space, that this is the room they come to for learning in general, not just for one specific subject area.

Partial rotation or maybe room to store the things that are needed for other subject areas, there are plenty of ways to solve that issue. I’m just curious if it’s even an idea that could have an impact. The system needs to change because the world certainly has; schools haven’t kept up with societal, cultural, technological, or economic shifts. The core ideas of the way schools work, even pragmatic things like where the classes take place, need to be adjusted.

3. Pokankuni says:

[8/13/2008 - 8:33 am]

In Italy ALL schools – intermediate and secondary – work that way: all class groups have their own class room, and teachers move from a room to another every 50 minutes. So here you have experience from a whole nation and a couple of centuries. The majority of my colleagues find the system satisfactory, but I suspect that it’s because they never experienced or even thought of the alternative. The main reason why we use it is economy – you need less rooms if you use one for every group instead of every teacher.
I’m a teacher in secondary schools, and I think that the italian system is worse than yours.
Except for few lucky exceptions, students don’t feel their room as a learning place, but rather, as a prison. Imagine 20-30 teenagers sitting in the same room, same desk, every day, 6 days a week, from 8:00AM to 1:30 or 2:30, even 3:00PM. One or two breaks only are formally authorised, lasting 10 mins each. Many more take place, without permission, but obviously tolerated.
The biggest disadvantage is the fact that every teacher has to carry her equipment, books, registers, etc. from a classroom to another. Foreign language teachers carry their cd players and dictionaries, geography and history teachers wish they had maps on the wall instead of photos of singers, actors and top models; science teachers like me only have labs in best schools: in most schools they cannot run experiments or use a microscope… I draw on the board, write and draw all the time like mad… Usually there is one tv set only, in the whole school, and a “pc room” used exclusively by IT teachers: other subjects teachers must do without computers, or engage in exhausting negotiations to be able to use them with their classes once or twice.
Sorry for the looong comment – it burst out of my heart, you see..

4. Todd says:

[8/13/2008 - 5:38 pm]

Yeah, good point Pokankuni. That last idea, though, just popped out to me as I was publishing this. It’s funny that the only comments here reflect on a brief footnote when the main idea of the piece is something else entirely. I’ll be more cautious in my post scripts in the future.

And no problem about a long comment. I write long entries too, so it’s only fair I give you space, too. Write as much as you like.