We all like new, don’t we? New movies, new books, new shoes. For me, a new Sharpie brings unequivocal joy. With a new Sharpie in my hand I feel like I can conquer the world, or at least make a pretty fabulous chart. Yes, we don’t just like new, we love it. That is until someone tells us to try something new in our classroom. In that case, most of us are tempted to say no thank you. No thank you, NEW. I’ll stick with what’s working, because, well…it’s working!
There are absolute positives that exist within a unit or lesson that is well seasoned. The teacher has reflected and fine tuned. Problems are anticipated and planned for. The delivery is smooth and the content is tight. I love the days when I walk into school knowing exactly how my day will unfold, knowing that I have a proven successful lesson ready to deliver to my students.
Then, there’s new. New is messy. It’s unpredictable. New makes the control freak part of us just FREAK OUT! But sometimes new is what our students need. Sometimes new will speak to our students in a way that old can’t. New brings possibility, creativity, challenge, and ownership.
I’ve come to embrace new over the past few years. It’s never easy. Sometimes it completely fails. There are some times when I return to the old, because it was better. One thing I have learned is that NEW and I go through a series of predictable stages together.
Stage One : Discomfort
This book club packet is really cute and easy to grade. Authentic? No. It’s ok, though, they’ll like it. I’ll be able to tell if they read the book. Is that the point? Don’t I want more for them than just reading the book? Cue that nagging feeling that means I’m about to try something new.
Stage Two: Excitement
Book trailers? Students are using Animoto to make book trailers? This is amazing. How have I not heard about this before? My students will love this! Imagine the conversations that will happen as they work through this project. Sold. Doing it. Telling everyone I know about this fabulous idea. My enthusiasm is borderline annoying to my husband, my team, and any random person I see in the hallway.
Stage Three: Panic
What was I thinking with this? Things could go wrong. No, forget wrong. This could be a disaster. Picturing computers freezing, 28 hands raised at the same time, and the sweet little girl at computer #12 yelling, “Mrs. Brittin! I was searching for pictures and something came up that my mom doesn’t want me to see!”
Stage Four: (This one could go one of two ways) Exhilaration or Disappointment
Hey, hey! This is working! They’re talking…the talk is good. Theme, mood, author’s voice. Yay! I love book trailers, and so do my students!
Well, won’t do this again.
Stage Five: Reflection
Why did this go wrong? What made this so successful? How can it be tweeked? How can I use feedback from students to plan better next time?
Maybe your experience with new is similar to mine, maybe it’s completely different. I do know that new is a lot easier when you share it with colleagues. I love that I work with teachers who are open to the possibilities, even though it’s uncomfortable at first. Hearing about eachother’s successes and failures makes all of us more willing to try, to change, to grow.
New doesn’t always turn out to be better, but sometimes it does.
Like my students’ Animoto book trailers 😉
This post is dedicated to my TEAM who tries new together every day.