Thursday, September 18, 2014


It's so easy to get stuck in your own teaching rut: to put your head down and immerse yourself in your classes, doing your best to keep the enthusiasm up when you're with your students, and to get through the paperwork in some kind of a timely manner.

Today, though, two colleagues (at different times of the day) told me about some of the GREAT things they are doing with their classes. I poked my head out of my teaching shell long enough to take a good look around, and was so inspired by what teachers at my school are doing.

One of my colleagues is using Plickers for the first time in her Law class - it's a quick way to poll the students in her class and project real-time results. But instead of everyone needing a device of some kind, the students hold up cards and she scans the room with a tablet. What a great way of getting immediate (and possibly anonymous) feedback from the students when not all of them have access to technology.

One of the math teachers is looking for ways to get his locally developed math class engaged. He was showing me an activity they were going to do today which involved going outside, throwing tennis balls against a wall and catching them. They had to catch as many as they could in 30 seconds, and then repeat with a bounce. And then repeat with one eye closed. (Oh, and then they had to do ratios and percentages with their data afterward.) I love this kind of active math. I want to be able to do more of that in my math classes too.

Another of my colleagues is doing a Global Read Aloud project with her class. They are in the process of coming up with and choosing the questions to ask their partner class to figure out where in the world they are. Hearing about how invested the students are in crafting the perfect questions, as well as their strategy for unravelling the mystery as they lead up to the actual project, is so wonderful. Talk about investing in your education!

I traded classrooms with yet another colleague earlier this week so he could do a tree identification lab with his class. All the lab benches were covered with branches of various trees as the students made their way through a bell-ringer to identify them. Where did they first learn about the trees? Not from a book... but while out on a hike just off school grounds. Love that they can bring take their learning outside (and then bring the outdoors back into the classroom). 

And how could I forget - another science teacher had his students create cell models using whatever medium they would like. One group donated their project to the science office when they were finished, and it was delicious! I love seeing students get this creative with their work. 

Mmmmmmmm.... organelles......
There's a lot of talk about how Twitter is such an amazing place to find new ideas and examples of innovation in the classroom - and it's true - but I don't think we can forget that amazing things are happening right down the hall from where we already are. I look at what the teachers in my school are doing and I'm thrilled to see what our students are doing. Are you also looking for new ideas? Take some time to find out what else is happening in your school!


  1. Heather,

    I keep hearing about how important it is for us to share our successes and control the brand of our schools in an effort to change the public's perception about education. I love this post. I love that you are working to celebrate the amazing things that are going on in your building.

    At a meeting this week, an educator spoke about how so much of what teachers do on a daily basis is "unwitnessed". By visiting other classes, you witness the efforts of other teachers. Validating their hard work in a post like this is empowering, exciting and inspirational.

    Thank you for sharing these terrific stories.


    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I thought it was amazing how much happier I felt as a teacher when I realized what everyone else was doing (not that I wasn't happy beforehand, but it was really uplifting to see all this great stuff happening)!

  2. Wow fantastic so great to be working with creative colleagues inspiring students to learning and real life experiences. It is true as a staff we need to share more and learn form each other. We need to take time at staff meeting at sharing!

    1. I would love it if there was some kind of a weekly/monthly feature somewhere (newsletter? bulletin board? email? blog?) about "what's going on in the classroom" !! Of course even a few days after posting this, I'm thinking of/learning about lots of OTHER great things going on in other teachers' classes. How would you decide just what to share?? :)

  3. Heather your idea of what is going on for a weekly/monthly feature is fabulous! You could do it school wide or grade wide etc...the possibilities are endless. I do think that the community, parents and other teachers would really enjoy seeing what is going on in the classrooms. I would love to hear what you decided in the end and how it goes!
    P.S. That cake looks de-lush! Now I am thinking about cake.....yum!

    1. What about a page on the school website? Hmmm... we do something somewhat similar with a newsletter, but it only goes out 4 times a year (with mid-term and final report cards). Something more regular/up-to-date would be interesting! I'll put the word out and see what others at my school think :)

    2. I think it is a great idea, Heather. Let's do it. Would someone have to take it on or do you think our colleagues would contribute themselves if we set something up? Are they self-aware of how innovative they are?


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