Going in Circles

“Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day.”  John Wooden

Heart-a-Day #6:  Op Art Heart

I suppose there’s a certain comfort in repetition. Teaching the same lesson the same way each year is comfortable. But after 17 years of teaching, I’m less comfortable with repetition. Maybe I’m just getting antsy. When I feel like I’m going in circles – repeating a lesson because it’s comfortable – I know it’s time to shake things up. I need to make the lesson more relevant to both me and the students. Like this: last Friday, we had our annual “100 Days of Learning.” (In case you missed it, you count from the first day of school.) In the past, my students made the same 100-day headband with 100 stickers on it. Same old, same old. So, this year, we made head bands with ten strips of paper stapled on them, each strip marked with ten boxes. The students needed to fill each of the boxes with stickers, stamps, numbers, letters in their names, hole punches, dots or drawings. This was a much more meaningful lesson, since it integrated groups of ten. The students were gloriously engaged. OK, I’ll confess. I saw this on a social media site for teachers and I tweaked it a little. Still, I get some of my best ideas from other teachers. Whatever it takes to make me stop going in circles is just fine with me.

How can you change things up when you’re going in circles? Is there another teacher you admire who’ll serve as your sounding board? How about group brainstorming during lunch? Let go of the familiar and try something new. Get out of the circle and run free!


(Access to these photographs does not constitute a transfer of copyright or a license for commercial use.  The images are for personal use only.  No portion of the images can be used without the expressed written permission of Michael B. Stanley, Jr.)


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I am an artist, musician, author and kindergarten teacher wanting to share what I have learned about teaching and making art.

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