Yes, you read the title correctly. In schools, teachers and administrators already have their minds working on the next school year. Schedules, staff changes, program changes, things we want to do differently, these are the topics of conversation in staff meetings and the teachers’ lounge. It’s not that we stop thinking about our current students and what they need, it’s that we’ve gotten to know our kids and have the time and mental space to start reflecting and planning for the next year. Good teachers never teach the same way twice, and good schools are always looking to build upon what is already successful.
I have been at my school for nearly five years now, and I haven’t had the same set-up or schedule two years in a row. Next year will be no different: we are transitioning to a middle-school-wide theme each quarter with integrated core blocks instead of segregated content (except for math, which, until our teachers become more familiar with problem-based math will sit outside the regular core block and be opposite specials classes). We will be designing units as a team with essential questions and culminating projects that result in quarterly project nights for families to attend. We also plan to do lots of grouping and regrouping among all levels of our students by interest, mixed grade levels, and skill sets as necessary to facilitate their learning. It feels like a huge undertaking, but our principal has figured out how to get us extra common planning time two days a week in addition to our individual planning time. It is exciting!
We go into this process knowing it will be imperfect at first, but we also know we will learn a lot and it reflects what we know about teaching and learning. Most of all, we believe this is the right direction for kids.