Throw out what doesn’t work. Replace it with this.
I knew the day was coming. There is a fairly extensive remodeling project happening in our office, including the need to move some storage areas for a new ESSDACK MakerSpace.
One of the storage areas sitting right in the middle of the danger zone includes some of my stuff. So Michelle, Facilities Director, office podmate, and “clean up your junk” taskmaster, let me know that my things had to find other living arrangements.
Fifteen years. That’s how long I’ve had the privilege of spending time here. Lots of good times. But also lots of stuff. Seriously, lots of stuff. So I spent four hours this morning going through shelves, folders, and three ring binders trying to decide what to keep and what to toss.
Yeah. Fifteen years of collecting books and resources. Fifteen years of lesson plan ideas and materials. Journals, articles. Freebies from conferences. Workshop handouts.
I eventually ended up with seven very full boxes headed to the recycle bin.
But here’s the thing. I was keeping tons of stuff that was outdated. I found grant applications from 2003. Unsuccessful grant applications from 2003. Stuff that literally is no longer supported by research. It needed to go. And for a variety of reasons, it was still hanging around.
It was time.
I think we all get like that sometimes. We get used to what we’re used to. Same strategies. Same novels. Same resources. Same primary sources. And I know that some of that sort of stuff we need to keep. I didn’t throw all my goodies away.
But summer is a great time to mentally and physically re-think what we do during the other nine months. What worked well? What didn’t?
It might be as simple as looking at all of your lesson plans through the simple filter of
What have I done the same way for the last three years? If I stopped doing _________ and started doing _________, how might that change make the lesson better?
Another question to ask
How can I modify this unit to make it less direct instruction and more student centered, less memorizing and more focused on historical thinking skills, less textbook and more literature, art, and music?
And I know that this can sometimes feel like cutting off a limb. The cool thing is that it’s gonna grow back and it’s gonna be better. Need some idea starters? Check out these people and places:
- Teaching History
- Free Technology for Teachers
- Teaching History with Technology
- History 2.0 Classroom
- Smithsonian for Educators
- Our Story
- Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources
- National Archives Teaching with Documents