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Transitioning to the NEW

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Teaching and Learning
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January 12, 2016

Happy 2016!!  As I welcome in the new year, I always begin the “cleanse”–going through closets and chunking items I no longer want or that fit, ridding the kitchen cabinets of expired food and actually wiping off the refrigerator shelves (can finally see them after all of the holiday food is out). I know for many this is a time of the 21-day “diet-cleanse,” renewed gym memberships and even the 21-day “financial cleanse.”  

As an educator, I would return after the holidays feeling renewed after having cleaned out my room/area and with the promise to be better prepared and return graded papers in a more timely fashion. I do wonder, though, if we as educators become complacent after the second week in January. In a recent TES magazine article, English teacher Gordon Cairns articulated that as teachers gain more experience, it becomes easier to become complacent. Cairns goes on to list five possible pitfalls to avoid.

  1. Confirmation bias: believing that what we have always done is the right way…” Is it? Are you looking at your data??
  2. Hierarchical thinking: this is when we send the blame for a problem further up the administrative food chain. Try the solution theory: look for problem solver suggestions.
  3. Fixation error: many of us (including myself) do this.  This is when we follow the same process even though it is clear that this process no longer works.
  4. Outcome bias: occurs “…we ignore small changes with our teaching because results are still successful” or in other words, we continue to use the same lesson plans over and over for 10-15 years. And finally,
  5. )Default mode: when teaching becomes rote for us as educators what then is it for our students???

New Year’s Resolution #11: try and avoid the “PITFALLS!”

Here’s to a new and innovative 2016.

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