Jon’s #2016eduwish for 2016.
Guest Blog Post by Jon Corippo
It’s a fun list, don’t judge me too harshly.
1. Ship your textbooks to Africa.
I’m serious. Word on the street is that the amazing Superintendent at Ballico Cressey School District did just that. Really, this fixes two problems: we are modeling a great philanthropic lesson for our students and also reducing our dependence on textbooks. A double win!
For the majority of educators, coffee is a daily workplace need: Let’s do this better in 2016. Out with creepy non-dairy creamer. Let’s band together at schools and get a milk frother (thanks to Juli Kimbley for introducing this coffee-magic to me!).ONLY $30! At most schools, that’s that’s about $1 per teacher – quit using powdered creamer!
As long as we are banding together – let’s can that 1988-era Mr. Coffee maker in the “lounge”….
and get a good coffee maker……if everyone kicks in about $30, a Breveille espresso machine will make those lunch and after school meetings just a little better.
3. Stop giving STUPID homework.
Alice Keeler will disagree with me as far as having ANY homework (yet another future blog), but not all parents are ready to have NO homework for their young academics. How about we stop giving stupid homework as a compromise? What is stupid homework, you ask? Randomly selected math book assignments (that don’t get immediate feedback the next day), reading “logs”, most any project that needs to be done primarily at home (Mission, Animal or State reports), crosswords and wordsearches (these usually get a grade of “check mark”). If we ask kids to work outside of class, they should be: WELL trained ahead of time, get immediate and detailed feedback and not get a grade of “check mark”, and I feel strongly that if teachers need a break on vacations, kids do too. No more weekend homework, or vacation homework please. I really like what Todd Feinberg’s idea of at least one “family night” a week that’s homework free. Let’s take that up a notch.
Less homework is a gift to teachers: Release that guilt about that stack of paper you do not relish grading anyway. Focus your relationships with kids on what you do IN CLASS!
4. Better lunches.
I know all about the food rules for kids (that’s going to be a blog post I can’t wait to write), but there are no such rules for adults. We don’t have to be stuck with “formulated” food, cooked in plastic bags. IDEAS: Start a culinary elective that makes lunch for TEACHERS every day. If you make a good enough menu, this could actually make some money too. Imagine the PBL possibilities (menus, spreadsheets, food costing and social media, not to mention real projects where kids are working with adults). Too much to handle? Do this once a week or once a month, as a class project!
5. Get a class soundtrack going.
Let’s stop ignoring the power of music. Sometimes, saying “put on your headphones and work independently” is CLASSROOM MAGIC! Take the advice of classroom music wizards like Matt Vaudrey and his music cues and Rich Hovey (The Sound of Common Core) and re-think your classroom environment. Rhonda Corippo advises setting up a Class DJ daily to pick the Pandora channel for the class. This builds a sense of community and keeps kids off YouTube looking for music videos, when they just want “some tunes” while they work.
6. Upgrade your music and video!
If your current speakers look like these, it’s time to upgrade. You will spend over 1000 hours in your classroom this year, enjoy it more. A nice, booming soundbar will cost your about $80, less than 10¢ an hour. If you choose wisely, you can stream music via Bluetooth right from your phone!
You can make Vaudrey and Hovey jealous with your big time music.
7. Become a PD Snob.
I love this phrase, coined on the fly by Andy Losik. Think about your foodie, beer, fashion or gardening snob friends. How do they get PD? They train themselves. They go to Comiccon on their OWN dime, they go to the Star Wars premiere in the costume they made. No one SENDS you to those events. You choose them. For 2016, consider paying your own way to PD that you choose. Go to event you’ve always admired from afar. Go. Do it.
8. Smart Start Your School (or Class).
This list of resources will give you a ton of good ideas for building a LEARNING culture to start off your year on a track for optimal student performance. Does the “don’t smile until December” plan work for anyone? Anyone?
Start the year with lots of quick mini-projects based on teaching kids HOW to learn and use the technology better, instead of spending a week on procedures, policies and making flash cards. Do a Marshmallow Challenge AND a Cardboard Challenge the FIRST week!
9. Change your math instruction.
Look, if just working out of the textbook or workbook was the answer, we would all love math by now. The fact is we are not getting kids excited about mathematical THINKING and that’s pretty scary when you consider that Engineering, Coding, CAD and Data manipulation are most of the most awesome future jobs.
How to change math instruction: Don’t change a thing, except the room itself. It’s called 360 math and the difference is the teacher can see everything going on (the learning) in REAL time.
Sure – it might cost $600-700 bucks to upgrade your classroom with self-adhesive whiteboard skins, but what is the value of being the most epic math teacher in the district?
Same book. Same math. Better real-time feedback. This could be another homework killer – if you know what everyone’s skill is when class is over, why do homework? Not convinced? Watch this.
10. Dive Deeper on Social Media.
If you are reading this, you saw a Tweet, Facebook post or something on Social Media, which means you are a lurker, at least. My challenge to you: LEAD on SM. Make a classroom or school Facebook page (make it private if you need to and invite your parents). Lead a Twitter chat (using Tweetdeck is my favorite tool for leading chats). Start a blog. Crank up a Remind account. Start talking with more people about your craft and experience. Get the word out. You will be happy you did.
So there’s my little wishlist for educators in 2016. School would be a better place if we all did 4-5 of these next year. Really think about that!