Back-to-school tips for teachers

James Burns, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, and M.O. Thirunarayanan, assistant profesor of learning technologies, have you covered, too.

deal with it

1 – Expect the unexpected

It may sound cliché, but expect the unexpected. Technology is transforming classroom instruction. White boards and tablets can help some lessons come alive but someday, somehow a glitch might keep that new tech from working properly. Or someday, your meticulously planned lesson will fall apart. Sure, planning is important, but so is maintaining the flexibility and the creativity to adjust on-the-fly when things don’t go according to plan. Your students might take their learning somewhere you hadn’t anticipated.

2 – There is no standardized child

In an era when education resembles systems management, remember that there’s no such thing as a standardized child. Children don’t “check their struggles” at the classroom door. We live in a society where 20 percent of children live in poverty. Poverty, racism, homophobic bullying, and homelessness do matter, and they do impact children in classrooms. It’s something to always keep top-of-mind.

3 – Avoid being a helicopter

Many teachers have lamented the “helicopter parent.” But how often have we succumbed to being helicopter teachers? Academic study and learning require some struggle and even some failure. A teacher’s role is to create abundant educational opportunities for all children. It is not to “deliver information” to children or to reduce education to behavior modification. Education is really about continuously reconstructing ourselves and our understanding of the world. Hopefully, our children will take that understanding with them into the world and reconstruct it as well.

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