This will be my last week teaching before I begin maternity leave. I’m definitely looking forward to my new adventure as a mum but know there will be a lot I will miss about being in the classroom.
In packing up my classroom to make way for the new teacher, it has been interesting to think about what is worth storing for my future teaching career, and what is obsolete.
I have been at the same school for almost a decade. The world has certainly changed, education has changed and I have changed as a teacher.
At this stage, I don’t know whether I’ll be back teaching in a short while or a long while. What teaching resources will be important or useful in the future? I do not know. What I do know is that many items I previously valued now have no use in the classroom.
I’m not a hoarder. I find it liberating to get rid of things I no longer need and I subscribe to the notion that a cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind.
I’m trying to be ruthless in condensing 9.5 years of resources into two or three plastic storage tubs.
One of the main things I’m disposing of is worksheets.
There was a time when I relished the challenge of making a “good” worksheet. I used to take pride in my folders, carefully organised into curriculum areas and topics.
It seems so obvious now but it took me years to realise that worksheets don’t feature heavily in an effective, modern classroom.
While there is always a place for recording of information etc. on paper, the “busy work” that I used to love to set now makes me cringe!
It is clear to me that hands-on, authentic, collaborative, open-ended tasks have a much bigger impact on students than a prescribed worksheet.
I wonder if this viewpoint will be more widespread when I return to the classroom. At the moment I still see photocopiers in high demand by many teachers.
Similarly, I have been asked countless times for “sheets” when a student is absent or going on holidays. Many parents seem to value worksheets as the key to education and see classroom education as easily replaced by paper work.
Other reflections on what is important now and in the future:
- Ideas and resources are always available: I can use Twitter, blogs and other online tools to brainstorm or source the ideas and resources I need in the future. I know my international professional learning network (PLN) will always be there. I don’t need to keep an artefact of an idea I had five years ago “just in case”.
- Digital resources don’t take up space: A lot of what I’ve created for my classroom is housed on my computer or in the cloud. My work programs used to take up a lot of shelf space. Now I work on them collaboratively with my team via Google Docs. This is just one example of saving physical space and working more effectively.
- I don’t need to provide it all: The modern classroom is a lot less teacher-led than it was when I began teaching. I don’t need to create all the work, resources or projects. This is something students can do authentically and collaboratively.
- Prioritising is powerful: I’ve always enjoyed creating a bright and attractive learning environment in my classroom. However, I have come to realise that spending hours on beautiful bulletin board displays isn’t a good use of my time. I’ve had to simplify things over the years to devote more time to avenues that can offer my students amazing outcomes, such as blogging and global projects. I no longer have as many “decorative items” to store and students can play a bigger role in working on their physical learning environment.
I’m excited about what lays ahead both personally and professionally. As for the future of my blog, I’m not signing off completely just yet. While I’m slowing down, I’m going to see what challenges my new life presents before determining whether I still have the inspiration and time to write about education.
What has become obsolete from your teaching career?
What resources do you think will be most valuable for teachers in the future?