This year, instead of committing to 365 days of staying organized, responding to emails within 24 hours, or grading assignments within three days, try something that’s more likely to lead to success: simply commit to one goal for 30 days. It just might revolutionize your teaching. Here’s why:
In a recent TED talk, Matt Cutts, a computer scientist at Google, introduced the 30-day challenge. By committing to one new practice for just 30 days, Cutts argued, we can free ourselves to take on the big, crazy goals we’ve always lacked the courage to pursue. For example, Cutts spent 30 days biking to work each day—something he’d always wanted to try but never felt confident enough to do until he knew it was only for 30 days. The biggest benefit, other than finally crossing the goal off your bucket list, is that once your 30 days are up, you’ll either have a great new habit or the wisdom of someone who’s been there and done that. It’s a win-win.
So what will you try for 30 days? Pick an audacious goal or an unconventional teaching technique from your “someday I’ll try” list, or give one of these Edutopia ideas a go:
Do your students’ assignments. I’ll be honest, I always meant to do this with my students and never did. Now I really wish I had. Putting yourself through your students’ assignments is a great way to see each exercise with fresh eyes and gain a better understanding of the amount of work you’re asking your kids to take on each day.
Model a skill every day. Every time you teach a new skill, take the time to model it in front of the whole class. Students need to see the thought process behind a new skill to understand how it works, and modeling is a great way to explicitly teach how to go from equation to solution or blank page to outline. Try modeling a new skill every day for 30 days, and you might find that it’s something you want to keep up all year long.
Call home each day. Each day, identify one student who has done something worth praising, and then reach out to that student’s family via phone or email to share your positive comments. Praise can work wonders for classroom behavior, especially when it’s delivered in the right way. This is another 30-day habit that could easily turn into a positive practice you’ll want to use year round.
Try a different teaching model. There are almost too many ways to try this one—you might flip your classroom for a month, send out or create assignments using Facebook or other online tools, or even rearrange desks and chairs so your class functions more like a workshopping space than a classroom. The possibilities are endless, but the 30 days are finite, so identify that one crazy teaching model you’ve always wanted to try and go for it!
No matter what you decide to do, keep in mind that the trick is consistency; as Cutts said, we can do pretty much anything for 30 days if we really want to. So what will you do, and how will it revolutionize your teaching this year? Leave a comment and let us know what you’re thinking.