Be the change, being a teacher, new year, Student-centered, students

3 Easy Things to Try That Will Make a Big Difference

The reviews have been rolling my way, quietly, yet loudly making my heart sing.

“I loved   book by so much bought copies for our whole staff! Great read for where we are at & wanting to go!”

” I am enjoying your book. You climbed into my head and my thoughts. Thank you for sharing your story.”

“”I never marry an idea, I date it.” Pernille Ripp in Passionate Learners. Great quote from an awesome book!

These people, these strangers, are reading my first book “Passionate Learners…” and they actually like it.  What an amazing feeling that is.  This book about my own transformation is inspiring others to change the way they teach, helping them give the classroom back to their students too.  What an honor to be a part of someone else’s journey of change.

So I am often asked, where do I start?  What can I easily do right now to change the way my classroom flows?  Here are my top three most frequently given answers (I think).

Ask your students what they want.  This simple, yet teacher-changing way of changing the way we teach is also one of the easiest things to do.  It is what we do with their answers that may make it hard.  So ask your students what they would like their year to be like?  What they would like their rules to be?  How an assignment should be done.  What a great teacher does.  And anything else you can think of.  I started asking my students all of these questions and more, and then I started changing the way I teach.  Why not give them a voice?

Let students work wherever they want.  I hate sitting still, I hate being forced to sit in a desk.  My students can work wherver they want as long as it works for them and the people surrounding them.

Offer Choice.  The very first thing I will do with all of my 7th graders is to ask them to pick the picture book I read aloud to them.  Then they will be asked to respond to it in some way.  While not full choice, as in, “What do you want to do right now?”  it gives them an idea of what our year will be like.  That we will share a lot of reading and writing but that their choices in reading and writing matter.  That they are here to uncover or shape their inner reader/writer and that their voice matters.

These three simple things can make an incredible difference in any environment.  Think of the message it sends from the very beginning; your opinion matters, as do your ideas, and you know yourself best.  That is the message I hope to start with and that is the message I hope my students understand.

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

2 thoughts on “3 Easy Things to Try That Will Make a Big Difference”

  1. Great ideas. I incorporate them all and love how my classroom gels–most of the time. In 5th last year there were many choices set to student vote, but of course there were some decisions I made as the coach. I’m wondering how this will look with first graders. I should know after the first three days of school. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this particular musing. My school year has officially begun with workdays and I get students 7/28/14. I have been asked what I will do for my discipline plan. As I have pondered it, I hadn’t decided on anything until I read your blog. My answer now….I will ask the students their opinion and go from there. I really want to focus more on the positive and less on the negative. You have inspired me. Thank you!

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