Teach with the End in Mind
Imagine yourself leaving school on the last day of the year. You are walking to your car with a handful of materials, and just as you open your car door you hear your name spoken. Two of your students are talking with their mom in the car next to yours. You hear this question from the mouth of the parent to her kids, “So, what did you like most about [your name]’s class?”
While we all know that pandering to the “likes” of students is never a good idea, imagine that the students in this conversation were two of your most thoughtful and engaged participants. What kinds of things would you like them to say about your class?
Mr. Jones was a really good listener. He always asked us to share our thoughts and ideas.
Ms. Thompson made class exciting by relating the material to our lives. I never knew science could be so exciting.
Mr. Johnson loves the literature he teaches. He made me love it too! I can’t wait to start reading some of the books he’s been referring to all year.
Ms. Smith made math so easy. She even offered to spend some extra time with us after school when we were working through a tough section.
We had some wild kids in our class, but Mr. Flores was always really patient. He never raised his voice; he always knew how to get the class focused in a positive way.
There are a number of situations that I imagine in this scenario, and I think this is a great way to begin setting goals for the year.
I start with the end.
If I want the students to feel listened to and engaged, I will concentrate on asking good questions each day. I will make a goal for each week that involves asking 5-10 questions.
If I want the students to see the subject as relevant, I will spent time researching the major pioneers in my field. In addition to bringing stories of these pioneers into the class lessons, I will tell the students about my research and why I am doing it. I want my students to know that I am still learning!
If I want my students to engage books and further learning outside of class, I will mention key titles and give mini-commercials for books and authors not covered in the curriculum. I might even make a list of “awesome books” on a wall in my room or post a list of “exploration titles” on my Canvas/ Blackboard site.
If I aspire to be that teacher who goes the extra mile, I will pick one day each week to offer an hour of extra review.
If I hope to order and focus my class in a gentle, positive, motivating way, I might begin asking some of the more experienced teachers about their best class-management tips. I might also make it a goal of reading a book on class management—trying out some new strategies and developing some new skills.
Plan for a great school year by starting with the end: dream up an end-of-the-year conversation you’d like to hear students have about your class.