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Stay Fresh

As teachers, hardworking and dedicated to giving our students the best education possible, we are constantly searching for new ideas to implement in our classroom. Whether it's a new classroom routine to speed up transitions, bringing in games to teach, or using a new tech tool, teachers are some of the greatest problem solvers and innovators out there. We want to be fresh.


Fresh, not spoiled or rotten. My brain sums up images of rotten fruit and the smell of spoiled milk with flies and gnats buzzing around. But what about our teaching practices? Our default mode of delivering instruction or assessments? Would those too have flies hanging out with them? Would you want to take a big sniff of your own teaching practices?


When I wrote the book A Place They Love: Creating a Healthy School Culture and Positively Impacting Students, I was aware that I had left behind a great deal of spoiled practices. Worksheets? Almost completely done away with. Taking away recess? That stunk, so I threw it out.


Read from the text and answer the questions? I had to get creative…I wasn’t allowed to throw reading out, but I did freshen it up, by using Seesaw (https://web.seesaw.me/). By recording myself reading the passages, students could access the text and read and reread at their own pace. I also allowed students to record their answers, because some of my students weren’t confident writers and spellers. This was a fresh idea and provided a way for students to access the curriculum.


Fresh doesn’t have to be over the top. Seesaw is awesome, and there are other platforms similar to it, and it’s pretty simple to figure out how to use it with your students. These platforms are not anything crazy difficult to manage, but they provide a great way to freshen up your teaching. I could go on and on about different ways to freshen up your teaching, but I’d rather focus my words on the why.


Why should we strive to stay fresh? Why should we be searching out for the best possible PD to help enhance and freshen our teaching? Because our students deserve our best. Our best is not five year old worksheets that worked once, five years ago. Our best is not lecturing to students. Our best should look like improvement. (We have room for improvement, just like our students.) Our best should look like providing more opportunities for experiences that students might not normally get.


Why would you not try for fresh? Why would you want to stick with what you know? I was afraid to try new things. I also doubted myself and the students’ abilities to handle a new learning tool or game or whatever. If you are afraid of the unknown, just know that you aren’t alone. Trying new things, any new thing, can be scary. It will be worth it when you see the growth in yourself, the excitement in your students, and the feeling of satisfaction that comes after creativity is experienced.


So go for it. Try that new thing, that new strategy, or engagement practice. It’s okay that you might be hesitant, but don’t sit on the sidelines. Don’t sit back and play it safe when you can do something extraordinary.


Elijah Carbajal is the author of A Place They Love: Creating a Healthy School Culture and Positively Impacting Students, through EduMatch Publishing. The audience, teachers primarily, are taken through Elijah’s journey and evolution as an educator. The reader gets to learn from Elijah and other guest authors about what can be done today to make school a place that students love. The book will challenge the reader to think bigger, work and teach differently, and to expand our creativity. There is also a heavy focus on building positive relationships with students. Check out A Place They Love, available Friday October 14, 2022 on EduMatch, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.


About the Author

Elijah has been teaching in the state of New Mexico since 2014, currently working in the Albuquerque Public School district. He enjoys podcasting as the host of The Shut Up And Teach Podcast. Elijah is the author of A Place They Love: Creating a Healthy School Culture and Positively Impacting Students, through EduMatch Publishing. He strives to make school a place that students love to be at by creating fun, safe, and engaging experiences and environments for all students. By challenging the norms of what education should look, act, and feel like, Elijah has created exciting opportunities for authentic learning to take place. Outside of the classroom, he can be found hanging with his wife Tracey, listening to or creating music, exercising, reading, or chilling with his cat, Nala.


Twitter: @carbaeli

Instagram: @carbaeli

Facebook: Elijah Carbajal


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