As many of us head back to work tomorrow, or if you are lucky like me you will be heading back the following week, we think of the second half of the school year. If you are like me you are excited about the new things you will be trying whether it is a new lesson idea, web 2.0 applications, or technology tool. Another thing that we often do is try to prepare for those things that will not go our way. I am a realist and know that there will be problems, hiccups, and things that will not go as I plan all the time. As I teach my students, I am going to get my crystal ball out and predict what will go wrong in 2011 in my classroom. However, I will also think out a solution which is a skill I try to impart on my students as well.
Problem: The internet will go out when I have an entirely internet based lesson and an administrator in observing.
Solution: I will get into my bag of tricks and use this as a teachable moment for both me and my students. Regardless of the topic, I will have students discuss and collaborate alternative activities with the same goal of the original one. I will get out the poster board, textbooks, LRC resources, and whatever resources available that day to get my students to reach the day’s target.
Problem: I will have a student miss two weeks of school that will include either a new unit or an assessment and I will have to play catch-up.
Solution: While the student is out, I will send home lesson materials in the form of handouts, videos, readings or anything else that mirrors what we are doing in class. I will differentiate the work so that it works for the student’s current circumstances but arrives at the same result as those in class.
Problem: I will have a great website/tool that I discover at home and when I get to school it will be blocked.
Solution: I will use my PLN on Twitter to find an alternate site that does the same thing. In addition, I will work with my school administration to show its value and work on getting it unblocked.
Problem: I will have a parent blame me for a student’s grade or progress in my class.
Solution: I will be open in my grading procedures and provide constant and comprehensive feedback on all graded assignments. This will help parents understand what their child’s grade is and how it was determined. Key is to keep parents informed and on the same side in regards to their child's education. I will invite the parent in for a conversation to avoid the miscommunication that often takes place via email communication.
Problem: A student will refuse to participate in a class activity or complete an assigned task.
Solution: I will assign tasks and construct activities that maximize engagement for all learners. If there is a specific task that a student refuses to do, I will offer them choice in an alternative activity that will meet that same learning target.
Problem: The paper towels will run out in the 7th grade hallway right after I have completed rinsing my hands.
Solution: I will shake my hand vigorously and I walk to the other boy’s bathroom in search of a full paper towel dispenser. I will then ask my custodian to fill the empty dispenser! :)
I encourage you to make your list of potential problems simply as a way of recognizing them before they hit you right in the face. Then you can be prepared and they will not be nearly as big of a stressor or a problem.