The summer break is coming to end and many teachers are already preparing for the new school year. In the midst of planning, organizing, and putting classrooms back together, teachers can also prepare for the new school year by getting inspired by other educators who are making a difference. Whether you’re ready to embrace the new school year or not, the following are some ways you can get inspired to start the year strong and to bring inspiration into the classroom.
1. Watch TED Talks. The TED blog recently posted a compilation of “10 Talks from Inspiring Teachers.” One teacher they highlight is Stephen Ritz, an award-winning teacher who works in the South Bronx. After watching kids get heavier and the healthy eating options in the neighborhood become fewer, Ritz had an idea to create urban “indoor edible walls” that would keep kids busy, learning, and healthy. The walls now provide food for the cafeteria and local shelters. They also have become a “full-scale business” for the students, who install them anywhere from local schools to the Rockefeller Center, and many places in between. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for teaching math, world peace, liberal arts, technology, or entrepreneurship, this compilation of videos has inspiring insights for all educators.
2. Bring something new to class. What is it that you hope your students take away from your class this year? Enhanced creativity? Problem solving skills? Teamwork? Having your students complete a project that seemingly has nothing to do with the class may be the answer. Kate Petty shares on her blog The Tech Classroom that she will be bringing the 20% project to her classroom this year to spark creativity, innovation, and intrinsic motivation. You may be familiar with the 20% project as a project Google uses with its employees. According to Petty, Google employees are asked to spend 20% of their time working on a project that isn’t in their job description. The result? For Google, Gmail, AdSense, and Google News. Many educators have implemented versions of the 20% project in their class, and Petty shares the different ways you can use it in your classroom.
3. Give old subjects a new spin. If there is a subject or section of your class that students didn’t grasp last year, how are you going to adjust it this semester to get it to stick? You may need to adjust your lens and look at the subject in a fresh way. Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is the creator of Bedtime Math, a blog full of fun word problems for “wee ones” to “big kids.” Bedtime Math’s mission is “to make the nightly math problem as common as the bedtime story.” However, Bedtime Math problems don’t need to be used exclusively at home. Try using a daily Bedtime Math problem in your class or sharing the blog with parents looking for extra math help at home.
How are you preparing for an inspirational new year?