Time for a Checkup! | Hooray For Monday

Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students. Prefer audio? Listen to the Hooray For Monday podcast! Available on your favorite platforms here.

February 12, 2024

By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President

 have a friend who schedules a checkup with her primary care physician as a birthday present to herself each year. At first, this seemed like an odd way to celebrate another trip around the sun, but I’ve come to appreciate that she’s investing in herself by doing this. She’s saying, “My birthday present to me is my health.”

Going to the doctor when you’re not in a crisis is preventive. It’s proactive versus reactive. And it helps you solve little issues before they become big problems.

This pertains to the classroom as well! We’re at the midpoint in the 2023-2024 school year and this is a great time to give your classroom a checkup. Here’s what we recommend:  

  1. Get to know your students all over again. Consider engaging your students in some of the same activities you might do at the start of the year and note how responses might look different now. A great example is Profile Pages where students share responses to a series of prompts about themselves on a poster that is then posted in the classroom for others to read. What prompts can you use now that you might not have tried at the start of the school year? See what happens when you encourage your students to assess what has changed, evolved, and grown over the last 6 months.

  2. Check in with your needs. How well are the needs for Autonomy, Belonging, Competence, Developmental Appropriateness, Engagement, and Fun being met for you and for your students so far this year?  The ABCDE tool is a great resource for everyday reflection, but it can also be used at a higher level to think about meeting the needs of the class overall over time. Is there a particular need that could use some attention? For example, are there ways you can boost students’ autonomy 6 months into the school year that might not have worked so well in September? What might you try so you and your students have more fun?

  3. Scour the walls. This one isn’t about a sponge and some bleach, rather, it’s about taking a close look at what you’ve got hanging in your classroom right now. Is what’s on your walls serving the purpose you intended? What does it communicate to the people who enter your room? Who created the content? Can all students see themselves reflected in what is on the walls (i.e. do they see their photographs, completed work and work in progress, artwork, etc.)? What else might you put on the walls? Can students have input in future changes?

Just like with a checkup, when you try these three things you may find some issues in the making, but the good news is you’ve got the rest of the year to address them before they become acute. And just like with a checkup, you’re likely to find things that are going well and that is cause for a little mid-year celebration. I wish you a week of well-being and curiosity-fueled discovery about the months that lie ahead.

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Hooray For Monday is an award-winning weekly publication by Center for Inspired Teaching, an independent nonprofit organization that invests in and supports teachers. Inspired Teaching provides transformative, improvisation-based professional learning for teachers that is 100% engaging – intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Our mission is to create radical change in the school experience – away from compliance and toward authentic engagement.

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