When I was teaching, late spring was always one of my favorite times in the classroom. Despite trying to fit in all of the fine arts programs and rehearsals, despite trying to cope with the scheduling lunacy of spring sports and despite seniors losing focus on the end prize I enjoyed planning and getting ready for next year. Maybe the renewal evidenced in nature was reflected in my own thinking about teaching. Or maybe with the nearly annual disappointment of KU not quite achieving a national championship in men’s basketball, it’s the always positive sports fan in me saying “Wait till next year”. Whatever the reason, spring is the time that I took stock in the past year’s curriculum successes and failures and then planned for next year’s classes. And I always found it rejuvenating—even more so, than starting school.
Teaching biology in high school is similar to going on a ski trip or canoe float. You make choices about slopes or rivers that match your expertise and resources available. You’ll probably push both a little bit because that is what make these things fun. You do the same preparing for next year’s classes—they are unknown until you actually meet them but you can select curriculum, scaffold your delivery and match your resources that are available. And like skiing or canoeing, once the class year begins there is simply not much time for any more planning—you just go along for the ride.
So now is the time to make next year’s teaching a success. Think about what worked this year. Ideally, you have been collecting data that will help you design next year’s course. At the very least review the topics covered and test scores your students earned each grading period to help inform your design.
My plan is to follow this post with more detailed posts that describe how I planned for the next year. Please understand, I certainly do not consider myself an expert planner—or even an expert teacher but over the years I’ve had many teachers ask me how I really did get ready for school. My goal then is that this thread of posts will serve as a starting point and maybe encourage your spring time planning…..