I have always tried to do things a little bit differently. I really don’t want my class to be like every other class. I want something different and unique, something that would impact the students and leave a positive memory with them.
One of the first “changes” that I made was introducing music as part of the classroom
culture (no one in my school outside of the music folks did this). I taught math (not music) but I knew that playing music during class could be beneficial. So in my second year of teaching, I brought the boombox from home, found a Braveheart disc and it was game on. I have had music playing in my room ever since (and expanded well beyond Braveheart – Spotify is amazing).
Another big change was transforming my teaching model from a traditional classroom to a flipped classroom. This was difficult, but intentional. I made this change because I had started to get into some really familiar routines and wanted to do something very different. Another big change: at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, I gamified my calculus class. It was a struggle, it was fun, it was exciting, and the days zoomed by soooo fast!
Why did I change to a flipped class? I thought it had potential! Why did I gamify? I thought it would make a big and fun difference! I didn’t do these things just to do them. I took intentional risks and left the friendly confines of the familiar for uncharted waters.
I had the opportunity to attend my first ISTE conference in 2013 and was so impressed! I loved the vibe! I loved the ideas I was getting from others! I LOVED this conference!! This conference really got me thinking about what I am doing in the classroom. What could I change? What needed to stay the same? How could I help students own their learning (even more than in a flipped environment) and be even more brilliant with my practice? All of these questions…I decided I had to go back and the very next year, my friend and I had a table session!
These ideas from ISTE had me looking around my school, one of the best public high schools in our state (True Story!) and I thought, we could be even more amazing….I dug into educational technology and the ideas from the conferences. From this point forward life was all about change. I would talk to any of my colleagues who would listen. I would stop them in the hall. Talk to them over the bathroom stalls. Walk them to class. Send staff wide emails…
Fast forward to January 2015, I resigned my teaching position to become a full time PhD student at Oklahoma State University. This was change of the highest magnitude! It was also very intentional. One of the biggest reasons that I did this was to put myself into a position to help teachers make changes without being afraid. I want to help them see that change is not bad, it can be so rewarding! But it can be so difficult to start.
As I close in on completing course work this December, change is coming for me again. I took some intentional steps to change my practice and they have led me on a journey I did not anticipate. What steps of change can you take? What can you do to improve your practice? What step can you take today, that will make a positive difference tomorrow?