Note: I wrote this blog just before school started and then got so busy starting school that I didn't publish until now! 
I stood in the door of my new classroom, completely overwhelmed by its emptyness.
I snapped a picture to send to a friend and captioned it, This is it - the before - the clean slate.

And then the impact of that statement hit me like cold wind on on a winter day.

This IS the clean slate. Given a few parameters of the school district that I work in, how this class functions, what it completely under my control.

I am the designer.
Pretty much...the sole designer.

So here it is, my clean slate. How shall I paint it?

I have been reading some incredibly good books to get me started this summer.
Here is my list so far of books and tools I plan on using: (I am sure this list will grow as I fill in the canvas of my classroom)

Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess
Learn Like a Pirate by Paul
Class Craft for Classroom Management
The 20 Time Project by Kevin Brookhouser
Team-E Engineering Grant Merced County Office of Ed
5 Fantastic 6th Grade Team-E Team members
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

I have been deeply inspired by each one in a completely different way. I know that implementing the concepts in these books, with a blend of my own sense of what education should look like, is going to be a bit of a trial and error process this year.

Trial and error you say? But our kids are not experiments! some extent,
that is how it is done. No one has yet written a book, tailored to my teaching style, on everything that will need to go into one sixth grade class run by me in this particular town. 

Except me. :)

So trial and error it is!

Should I be afraid of a this trial and error process. NO!
The greatest inventive minds in our society have actually embraced a trial and error process for developing new inventions. It is called the 'engineering process', consists of roughly six steps, and each try is called an iteration.

Trial and error is what professionals do! 

This is where some folks struggle with this concept. They think that one size fits all. What works over there will work over here in exactly the same form and function. But life isn't always like that. 

Not all teachers are cut from the same mold either. We share each other's ideas and learn from one another. We learn from research, but when it comes down to it, it is up to us to mold all of the theories into a comprehensible program for kids.

One size does not fit all.

The good news, however, is that I won't be starting from scratch. Aside from my 25 years of experience in education, iterations have also been done by Burgess, and Brookhouser, and Solarz and Corippo and many other innovative educators. 

We know kids need coding, and math, and hands on, and that they need to participate in their learning! These are great starting places for my classroom.

The rest is up to me.

I'll study my own class to see what works and what does not work within the scope of my style. And to be honest, right now, I am not completely sure what my style will be in this new design. I do know, it will be very different from the last time I was in a classroom. I know different things, I have read different books, learned about different ways that kids learn. So yes, my style will be different! I look forward to the change and expect to surprise myself along the way!!!

Check back and see how I have painted my clean slate. Maybe you can save yourself a few iterations from my trail and errors!



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