Don’t you just love attending a conference or workshop where you leave feeling inspired? This was the first year in a long time that I missed the ACTFL Fall Convention, but I followed the #ACTFL16 hashtag on Twitter and felt so engaged and motivated to try new things in my classroom.
With so much new learning taking place, I can always envision my classroom changing drastically once I get back to teaching. I can see a classroom where student engagement is up, all lessons help students advance their proficiency, assessments allow for better feedback, students are interacting beyond the classroom walls, and so much more! And many times my teaching does improve after applying the things I learned, but, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the learning that took place during my professional development ends up never making it past a great idea in my head.
What’s the difference? Productivity vs procrastination.
When you first head back to the classroom after an inspirational professional development activity, it’s the idea time to put new learning to practice. You’re feeling motivated and ideas are still fresh in your mind. My friend Justin Turpin, from Brilliant Spark, recently shared with me 3 tips for productivity that I believe will help you put your new learning into practice.
1. Focus on One Thing at a Time
If you’re like me, you just left your conference with a whole notebook full of ideas on how you can improve your classroom. Buzzwords and new techniques are spinning around in your head.
All of that new learning at once can be overwhelming. Focusing your attention on just one thing at a time allows you to hone that skill and focus on giving your learning depth rather than feeling spread too thin.
Also, give yourself permission to try out this “one new thing” in just one of the classes you teach. Not only will this prevent you from burning out in attempts to change all your lessons in all your classes, you can even do some action research: how are students taught in your traditional classes are performing compared to those being taught with your new learning?
2. Do the Most Important Thing First
We all have different circumstances and constraints in our classrooms. No one but you can decide which piece of learning is most important or will have the greatest impact on student language acquisition in your classroom.
If a few different ideas seem to be equally important, try implementing the easiest one first so you can quickly move on to the next. And remember, just because you choose something as “most important” doesn’t mean you won’t implement the others in the future!
3. Start Now!
I wish I could say I’ve implemented all the great ideas I’ve encountered during conferences and workshops. But the ones I have had success with, have been the ones I started immediately after my training while I’m still feeling inspired and ideas are fresh in my head.
With Thanksgiving Break upon us (and many other great PD opportunities happening in the summer time), starting now may not seem ideal. Maybe you won’t see your students for another week, maybe you’ll be traveling to see family, or maybe you are busy preparing to entertain guests. We all have reasons why starting now just wont work. But before you lose motivation, find something you can do to start today: order a book on the topic, plan a coffee date to discuss your new learning with a friend, bookmark a blog post, or find time to write that new lesson plan!
Where will you go from here?
I would love to hear in the comments what your “One Most Important Thing” is from your most recent professional development opportunity and what’s your first step to “Start now!” Be sure to read the comments from others and consider leaving some advice or resources to help others get started!