Teaching

7 Things Teachers Can Quit Doing This Year

By Stacey Decker — August 09, 2018 3 min read
Danna Thomas, a kindergarten teacher at Windsor Hills Elementary School in Baltimore, and the founder of Happy Teacher Revolution, smiles and snaps her fingers while a fellow teacher shares a good moment from earlier in the day.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Teachers, your well-earned summer is winding down and school is starting up again. Right now, you might be focused on turning your empty classroom into a supportive learning environment. But before you know it, you’ll have fallen into a teaching routine: lesson planning, classroom management, grading, and everything in between.

This year, are you returning to some old habits? Have you asked yourself if your standard practices are essential or superfluous? Have you thought about shaking up your pedagogy or mindset by casting off some of your classroom traditions? Here are seven things teachers have let go of in the spirit of being a better educator:

1. Grades

Author and Education Week blogger Starr Sackstein has been a longtime advocate for ditching grades. “Ungrading” isn’t a new concept, but it’s catching on and even has a robust online community. In this short video, Sackstein offers some quick tips for teachers who want to stop marking student progress with letters and numbers:

2. Talking so much

Have you reflected on how much time you spend lecturing? “Simple changes to how long teachers talk can have a profound influence on the effectiveness of their instruction,” writes Wendy James, coordinator of collegiate renewal and curriculum for Saskatoon Public Schools in Canada. James offers teachers three strategies for cutting down on oral instruction. Check them out.

3. Seeing students’ struggles as problems

Students “are mysterious, developing individuals,” writes teacher Kyle Redford. “Approaching their struggles like puzzles to solve, rather than problems to react to, makes our instruction more effective.” One way to do that, she argues, is by adopting “compassionate curiosity”–a concept she borrowed from a mindfulness expert and spiritual leader. Learn more about it.

4. The fear of “getting in trouble”

Justin Minkel, a teacher and regular contributor to Education Week, says most teachers he knows share a phobia of being reprimanded. “Seventeen years since I started teaching, I still get nervous when my principal walks into my room,” writes Minkel. He offers this challenge to educators: Throw the rules out the window for a week and see what happens. Wondering where to start? Minkel has you covered.

5. Being a martyr

“It’s time for the unhealthy narrative of the martyr teacher to die. This expectation does a disservice to the entire profession.” That bold statement comes from teacher Natashia Hill, who is fed up with the idea “that great teachers must live a life of imbalance, poverty, and continual self-sacrifice.” Check out her five tips for shaking off the expectation of martyrdom.

And on that note …

6. Running yourself ragged

“Self-care is not selfish,” says Danna Thomas, a kindergarten teacher in Baltimore who founded a teacher-support group called Happy Teacher Revolution. She’s not wrong. Recent studies have a drawn a link between teacher burnout and student stress. So get a good night’s sleep. Eat lunch. And focus on your social and emotional needs. Here’s what educators and researchers are saying about the positives effects that could have.

7. The teachers’ lounge (well, metaphorically)

“The teachers’ lounge is not a place at all,” writes teacher Lauren Powell. “It is an attitude or atmosphere fostered by disenchanted teachers intent on bringing everyone down a level.” Gossip breeds negativity, Powell argues, and creates a toxic environment that spreads to the students. Hear her out.

Hopefully this list has left you inspired (or at least intrigued).

We want to encourage you to share the teacher habits you’ve kicked or the traditions you’ve thrown out the window. Drop them in the comments below.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Opinion ‘Someone Like Me’: The Surprising Power of Role Models
Teachers are models of behavior—and can help kids aspire to reach goals they never imagined.
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty
Teaching The Chemistry Teacher Who Went Viral on TikTok
He's made paper from grass clippings, used mousetraps and ping pong balls to explain a nuclear reaction and sets many, many things on fire.
Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star
4 min read
Phil Cook stands in his classroom at Culver Academies. The chemistry teacher has gone viral on TikTok as @ChemTeacherPhil.
Phil Cook stands in his classroom at Culver Academies. The chemistry teacher has gone viral on TikTok as @ChemTeacherPhil.
Photo Courtesy of Phil Cook
Teaching Q&A Q&A: What Is Culturally Responsive Teaching?
A Native education expert explains what culturally responsive teaching is and why it is so important for students.
3 min read
Teaching Opinion Students Can Make a Difference in the World. Here’s How to Inspire Them
One person alone can’t solve climate change, social inequality, or the pandemic. But working as a group is powerful stuff.
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty