2015: Round up of learning from secondary teachers

As 2015 closes out, I and other secondary teacher/bloggers can't help but reflect on our learning from the year.  For me this year has been a tremendous journey that has taken my 15+ years of secondary teaching to an entirely new level.  While I could easily write a book of reflection, today I will share with you just three of the lessons that I learned and hopefully will help your own teaching.

1. Homework: to give or not to give.  This past year I moved to a part-time college like environment for secondary students.  What that means is that, I see my students once or twice a week.  So, do I need to give them homework?  

In discussing this question with other teachers, I looked up some of the research.  A study out of Germany showed that there was little to no value to homework particularly in secondary.  This article out of ACSD shows a nice cross-section of research for and against the value of homework.   Of course, I am teaching in a college-style situation which makes some of this research less applicable.  Still, the conclusion I came to, at least for now, is some homework is of value as long as it is meaningful.  For my classes that tends to be research and projects that prepare students for active learning in class.

2. The interactive notebook.  As my regular readers know, I have been playing with interactive notebooks for the first time this year.  I have only used interactive notebook pages in math class so far, but I am preparing to try them for the first time with my social studies class that starts in January.  Because I teach in an unconventional setting at the moment, I have complete freedom over my curriculum.  It's been great to try out INBs with no pressure.  I love using them with my students.  It is the rare day that I have even 2 students on the same concept at the same time, so the INBs have been a valuable tool to differentiate and most importantly my students love INBs.  The students are empowered to take charge of their learning.  You can find some of the INBs I have created here or read more about my INB experiences here.

3. Endorphins help my teaching.  Thirdly, I'll share this lesson which I kind of already knew, but was definitely reinforced this year.  As many of you know I am an ultra marathon runner.  What you may not know, and what I learned, is the link between running and my quality of teaching.  Over the summer I broke my tailbone.  I couldn't run for weeks, and I was surprised with how my creativity in curriculum development took a nose dive.  I needed those endorphins (and that time) to just reflect on and think about projects.  I also lost some of my inner calm without my run.  I need those endorphins to engage in my inner happiness.  Trust me when I tell you that everyone in my life (including my students) were much happier when I could run again!  

What have you learned?  Share below and grab some other great lessons from secondary teachers through the links below.  And before you go, a special thank you to Secondary Sara for encouraging secondary teachers such as myself to reflect on this year.  It was great to put things into perspective and think about where I and my classroom are going next year.  Take the journey with me by stopping back here to find out what I am learning and share your learning.







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9 comments

  1. Great post, and thank you too! Thanks for the links of ideas about the homework debate. You inspire me to make more time for running!

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    1. Thanks, Sara. It was great to reflect on the year. I could have written a book for sure.

      Cheers,
      DocRunning

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  2. Many thanks for this brilliant post! Many points have extremely useful. Hopefully you'll continue sharing your knowledge around.
    Child Centered Education,Alternative Education

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  3. It's so interesting that your creativity with teaching is so closely related to your workout! I've never even realized those two things could be linked! Thanks for sharing

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    1. Not sure I realized it until I wasn't able to run...of course, running is such an integral part of who I am that I am quite grumpy when I can't run :)

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  4. I love your food for thought regarding homework. There's always so much to think about! As a fellow runner, I am right with you! I get some of my best ideas while running! Happy New YEar!

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    1. Thanks for sharing. Love to hear from fellow runners...

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  5. I couldn't agree with you MORE on the HW debate! I feel the exact same way...I completely changed my "HW" this year, in fact, we don't even use that word anymore. I too use a more PBL approach to what I do--->It has been an amazing paradigm shift that I'm excited to see grow!

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    1. So thrilled to hear that others are phasing homework out or at least re-thinking it. My class is so much more valuable now.

      Cheers, DocRunning

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