Re-inventing myself, once again

In my district, teachers go back to work on July 27, with students starting a week later. I’ll be teaching something new, which gives me the opportunity to create, a prospect that is both invigorating and terrifying. Which one I’m feeling depends on the day. Last spring, I was completed panicked, my go-to response to change of any kind. The official name of the course is Study Skills, but I prefer to call it Enrichment because I want to move kids beyond where they are, and not have them assume that I have the answers as to how to study in the 21st century. In the past, teachers have taught this course as an add-on to their regular assignment, but it will be my full assignment, another push to design something fabulous.

Last spring, the only things I was sure of were that I wanted to include a “genius hour” component and increase personalized learning the other days. I wasn't completely sure what either meant. I was part of an interdisciplinary inquiry and project-based team about…

Believe first

Believe first

I was listening to Weekend Edition on NPR this morning, and there was a story about 74 teenagers chosen for the Jimmy Awards, a week-long learning experience on Broadway, The show's choreographer, Kiesha Lalama, said that she expects a lot from these teenagers. “You know, if you treat them like professionals and really just challenge them to rise up, they do, and if you provide them with the opportunity, they can thrive.” Her words resonated with me as a teacher and also as a learner, and gave me the name of my blog.

When learners are beginning something new, we as teachers treat them as though they will master it, and eventually they do. Our belief in them comes before their achievement and our confidence can keep them going when they are mired in the midst of it. In Spanish class, I've often had kids who are sure that they cannot sort out this whole la…