If you’re a few years into teaching the same grade level, things are probably finally starting to fall into place for you. Your routines are all set. Your classroom space is organized. You know your standards inside and out. You have favorite lessons, units, read alouds, etc., that you love to teach. Congratulations! It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this point. Your students are lucky to have you!
Here’s the tough part: truly great teachers don’t stop here. They keep learning. They keep trying new things. They are open-minded. They keep their teaching practice fresh. With everything else going on in your life, this can be tough to make time for, but it is so worth it! Here are a few ways you can stay inspired and work to keep your teaching fresh as an experienced teacher.
Read Professional Books and Start a Book Club
I’ve been part of a teacher book club for a couple of years and it has been an amazing experience. We choose a professional book to read and meet about every six weeks to discuss it. I love that keeping up with the latest in educational reading inspires me to try new things — and sometimes just helps me to feel validated in what I’m already doing. Our meetings are also a great time to get advice and support from other teachers.
If you’ve been teaching for awhile, the technology available to you as a classroom teacher has probably changed in some big ways since your first years on the job. It can be overwhelming to try and entirely revamp your practice by going completely digital, but you don’t have to go that far. Making some small changes by incorporating technology into one lesson at a time can be a wonderful way to keep teaching fresh and engage students in a new way.
If your school is going Google, you can find free training resources in Google’s teacher center. I found the videos and articles there enormously helpful as I trained to become a Google Certified Educator last year.
Remember, great teachers are always learning and growing! If you try something new and run into a few technological hiccups, just use it as an opportunity to model a growth mindset for your class.
Join a Teacher Facebook Group
I have learned so much from the second grade colleagues in my Second Grade Smiles Second Grade Teachers Group. Who better to get advice from (and commiserate with from time to time) than teachers who are also in the classroom teaching the same grade level? Respond to another teacher in need now and then as well. It will feel good to help someone else!
Mentor a New Teacher or Student Teacher
Opening up your classroom to another teacher can be a little daunting at first, but I promise you it’s worth it! New teachers bring so much enthusiasm to the classroom that you won’t be able to help but feel some of the excitement. It’s catchy! Listen to their ideas and talk with them about what they are learning in their classes. You’ll be paying all the help you received as a new teacher forward and you might just be inspired to try out something new! I know that answering questions and talking through my practice with someone else also really helps me to be a more reflective teacher, and that’s good for my students.
Enroll in a Course
Education is always changing! Keep up to date with the latest research by taking a class on a topic of personal interest to you or in an area where you know you could benefit from some growth. Some colleges give discounts or free courses to public school teachers or practicum supervisors. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
Read and Follow Teacher Blogs
I am so thankful for all the teachers who share a window into their classrooms, thoughts, and ideas through their teacher blogs. I’ve taken so many of their amazing ideas back to my students with such success long before I started blogging myself. Drop them a comment now and then and let them know if their posts are inspiring you!
Follow Teachers and Hashtags that Inspire You on Instagram
I love scrolling through my Instagram feed and being inspired by other educators! Remember to use the save feature to bookmark ideas you love and come back to them when you are ready to try them with your class. (You can find me on Instagram here. I would love to connect with you!)
Search Pinterest and Follow Boards with Educational Content You Love
Pinterest is another great place for some visual inspiration! Pin ideas that inspire you. Organize your ideas with boards labeled by subject area or topic so you can find them easily when you are ready to give them a try with your students. If you are looking for some new second grade teachers to follow, you can find me on Pinterest here.
I hope this post leaves you with some ideas for keeping things fresh as an experienced educator. If you have thoughts to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments!