Don’t give up yet: It’s the perfect time to inspire


Teaching | Thursday, April 24, 2014

Don’t give up yet: It’s the perfect time to inspire

Don't give up yet: It's the perfect time to inspire
With summer vacation right around the corner, the end is in sight. It’s so easy to shut down. But we can’t. There’s too much at stake.

It seems to happen every year at this time.

My lesson plan book gets filled out to the end.

At some point about a month before school wraps up, I realize that it’s possible to get the rest of the year planned, so I do it.

Much of the last weeks in my class are student-directed (i.e. reading, blogging, final projects, etc.), so the planning is less detailed and easier.

It’s a great thing, really. With planning done, I can make sure I keep grading caught up and focus more on my students and their needs.

It’s also a bad thing, I fear. I think something is triggered inside my brain that makes me think about shutting down.

Although I don’t consciously do it, I start hearing the end-of-school countdowns. The weather starts getting nice here in Indiana and the days start getting longer.

Summer brain starts setting in.

So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to write this post as much for myself as for you.

Matt, don’t let it happen.

bammy award banner for DTTMatt, don’t shut down.

Think of those students that are entrusted to you. Think of their futures. Think of the little bit of inspiration they might need to change their lives.

For me, all it took was a mention of computer programming in basic to kick-start a decades-long love of tinkering with and hacking computers and websites.

It started with creating programs in BASIC with a friend in middle school. It led to a game we created called “Tubular Trio” that we entered in our local media fair.

Now, my friend is an engineer with General Motors in Detroit with a degree from prestigious Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology here in Indiana. And I’m blogging and using technology in the classroom as a teacher.

Did we quit writing code in BASIC over the summer? Nope. Quite the opposite. It gave us even more time to code. 

Think you might have students like that middle school version of me: Check out Vicki Davis’s Edutopia article on teaching kids to code even without a computer. Elementary school students can learn to code, too. And these 10 resources for learning to code are free.

All it takes is a mention. 

reader survey

For one of my students, all I had to do was mention Duolingo, a website that teaches you a foreign language as you help it translate the web.

Now, whenever we’ve finished with a quiz, test or activity in class, I see Duolingo open on his computer. He’s relearning content from my Spanish class or working ahead because Duolingo’s platform engages him. (This is the same guy that started creating his own sophisticated choose-your-own-adventure story on Google Forms because we did basic ones in class.)

Not because he has to. Because he wants to.

Want to bet he keeps studying Spanish on Duolingo over the summer?

Again, all it takes is a mention.

It may only affect one kid.

As teachers, with the constant cycle of students joining our classes and leaving our classes, sometimes we start to see the forest and miss the trees.

But think of a time when you were inspired and you were probably the only one.

Now is a fantastic time to spark inspiration in a student’s brain. It could light a fire of passion that burns through the summer and beyond.

Don’t shut down, Matt. Don’t let it happen.

There’s too much at stake.

Do you have an example of inspiration sparked in a student? Have advice to share with others about teaching strong until the end? Share it in a comment below!

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