You would think that after eighteen years in the classroom I would really be zeroed in on what my curriculum is going to be one year to the next. You might think I have this big file cabinet full of project outlines, or binders full of project ideas. When I started teaching all those years ago I thought that was where I was going. I bought binders, lots of them, so I could save student projects one year to the next so students would have exemplars; students could see what a good project looks like. I was told a good teacher knows where the class is going, and has a clear roadmap, or curricular plan, on how to get there. A good teacher has a binder with all of the assignments for the year. Students will do this, then that, then the next. A good teacher plans each detail of the year. Thats what I was taught.
So what happened? Where’s the binder?
Well, technology happened. It would be absurd for me to ask my students to do the same things I was asking them to do just 5 years ago. The things they were doing and spending a week on can now be done in five minutes with any number of apps on their cell phones. What was impressive and engaging for students a couple years ago is old hat now. So I have to take risks. I have to try this, and try that. Some things just don’t work either technologically, or I can’t capture kids interest. Other things work. They engage kids. I don’t know from one week to the next what is going to really click, or from one kid to the next. The heck with two or three years down the road!
A tweet caught my eye the other day-
“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” – Warren Buffett
— MichaelSmithSupt (@principalspage) February 17, 2014
I usually do not know where my students are going with their work in class. I have no idea what form their “projects” are going to take a month from now. I will show them a tool, suggest some kind of topic, provide an example, and challenge them to use the tool. Yes it is a standards based class, but that doesn’t mean everyone is doing the same, preplanned thing at the same time. They aren’t. We are figuring it out together as we go. Some times it works, and sometimes it doesn’t work so well. But I am really glad I don’t have those binders that used to seem so important.