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So Many Choices

Our house has been under renovation for quite a while, but we have finally reached the point of choosing tile. We started with the kitchen backsplash and I thought I knew exactly what I wanted. I scoured Pinterest® and watched so many episodes of renovation shows on HGTV that I was sure I would be able to quickly make a choice at the tile store and move on to the next project.kitchensink
 
Then I stepped into the tile warehouse and saw more choices than I could imagine, and none of them seemed to be exactly what I had pinned on Pinterest. I grew more and more anxious walking up and down the aisles and began to overthink the whole process. I went home more confused than before we stepped into the store.
 
We went back to the tile warehouse another day and I decided I just needed to choose a few samples to take home to study. Perhaps if I looked at them in each room long enough, I would know what choice to make. But I felt some serious pressure because it was something I was going to be living with for a long time.
 
I eventually invited my friend Susan to visit. Susan is a designer and has an eye for style. She knows the right questions to ask and was able to steer my decision-making so that I could focus on what would suit our home and how it would look when it was finished. But even with all of her guidance, her last statement was, “There are rules of design, but at the end of the day it’s your home.”
 
Armed with insight from Susan, we took one more trip to the tile warehouse and quickly found just what we wanted. She took an intimidating process and made it possible to swiftly target just what I wanted and even presented me with a few more options on how the tile could be installed. All the pieces came together to create a kitchen that makes me smile.
 
Just like the many styles of tile for a home, there are countless ways to package a science lesson. If they haven’t already, teachers will be creating lesson plans for the first few weeks of school and learning about a number of teaching strategies to deliver content to students. Some may be more effective than others, but let’s think about providing a little guidance to teachers, much like my friend Susan guided me.
 
Present Some Choices, Within Reason
The vast number of strategies, games, and activities presented in workshops, books, and online can overwhelm just about anyone. When planning professional development days for your teachers, consider choosing a small variety of solid strategies to allow teachers to be effective. If your district or school is tackling a new initiative, keep that in mind when choosing additional information to present to teachers.
 
Mix It Up
Even though subway tile is awesome, it would be boring if we used the same subway tile in every room of our house. The same is true when planning a lesson. Kids may love to play a game for review, but they will quickly tell you they want something new if you use the same game too often. Most teachers have a favorite strategy they like to use in a lesson, but remind them to mix it up not only to address different learning styles but also just to keep things fun.
 
Use It Differently
Tile can be set in straight, horizontal rows or arranged into a pattern to create a whole new look. The same can be true of some of the best teaching methods. Having students process learning with a partner is a great way to get students engaged in a lesson. Students could talk while sitting side by side in chairs, while standing with the speaker balanced on one foot, or while one student is creating a drawing that represents what the other is saying. You can even switch things up from one class period to another.
 
Allow Some Freedom
At the end of the day, teaching is a very personal pursuit. Allow teachers the freedom to be creative and stretch their ability to artfully deliver a lesson. One teacher may love using jokes and cartoons with students while another may effectively use songs and chants. It’s also possible that a teacher will try a new strategy and it may be a flop. Take a risk by letting your teachers take a risk, since the goal is to continually grow teachers so they can grow their students.
 
Back in my newly tiled kitchen, I wash dishes in my sink while enjoying the beautiful wall in front of me even though there are a few places that need a little extra grout to hide some flaws. At the end of the day, I’ve left my mark on this kitchen that will last until it goes out of style. It’s the same with teachers. They leave their mark on their students, which is one of the longest lasting impacts there is. And that is why I love being a science teacher.
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