Surprise! Your classroom has been changed to a new building.
Surprise! Your first days of planned content will be spent testing
Surprise! Your materials that came in were incorrect and we need to reorder them.
Chances are even if you’ve had a great start to the school year, the last few weeks held a surprise or two. While we have the tools to monitor and adjust in the classroom, it can feel a bit overwhelming to navigate large adjustments to our instructional plan or professional expectations.
In these moments it can be tempting to put teaching and learning on hold until there is further clarity about what you and your students can expect moving forward. Unfortunately, few things can be more damaging to your classroom culture.
Many of you have identified student independence, critical thinking, and curiosity in the classroom as key to your classroom vision this year and we know that our visions are actualized when we consistently put our goals into practice. For students to begin building a strong classroom culture of intentional learning, there has to be intentional work provided to them each day. As your coaches, we want to challenge you to go into class prepared with something meaningful for students to engage with even if the plan is likely to change.
In my classroom, I referred to days that required surprise adjustments as “Hakuna Matata Days”. I introduced this idea to students in the beginning of the year while we were covering procedures and did my best to frame these days positively. I played the Hakuna Matata song as students entered class and my board included a note about what was originally planned for the day, what we would be doing instead, and why.
This approach enabled me to relieve anxiety for myself, be transparent with my students, and build relationship at the same time. It helped me put things in perspective and make issues that once seemed huge (like the order of the units for the year being changed around last minute) manageable because I had a built in structure that allowed me to change direction without feeling like time had been wasted or lost.
As a teacher development team, we are here to problem solve with you around challenges like the ones above. We want you to feel empowered in your classroom and like you have a sense of direction even when school systems and expectations are in flux. Reach out to us when the surprises come along and we can figure out together how to make sure there is no interruption to students receive an Excellent Equitable Education Every Day.
All the best,