Teachers worry about the Common Core, high stakes testing, accountability, parent complaints, and many other issues that face educators daily. What if you could stop worrying? What if there were quick fixes for your school and classroom that you can implement right now?
Sound unrealistic? It’s not. The answer is easy: Instead of using the old committee approach and a 5-year plan, attack your problems with a hacker’s mentality. This is what Jennifer Gonzalez and I have done in Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School.
The theory behind hack learning is that experienced, open-minded, progressive educators attempt to see the problem from angles that other people don’t see. The hacker takes a step back and considers all assets–even students. She assumes that quick fixes do exist and that you just have to find them.
Consider these solutions to some common everyday problems that have plagued educators for decades. The best part of these “hacks” is they are right-now solutions that don’t require a 5-year plan. They will improve your classroom and your students immediately.
10 quick fixes for every school
1 — Replace meetings with a backchannel and a bin:Educators must stop wasting time and the easiest way is to move meetings to the cloud. There is almost nothing shared at a school meeting that can’t be placed in a cloud-based storage bin and discussed in cyberspace with the proper backchannel.
2 — Use a Pineapple Chart to boost teacher collaboration: What if we welcomed colleagues into our rooms each time we do something great? Of course you do great things. Share them with the world. The pineapple symbolizes a welcoming place. The Pineapple Chart helps teachers and administrators welcome people into our classrooms, where we can share best practices and make each other better.
3 — Escape the chaos: How often do you stop and decompress, during your school days? A quiet place and a few moments of peace can change your attitude and potentially lengthen your teaching career. Where is this Shangri-La? It’s in your TQZ, which is right there at your school. You just have to find it.
4 — Manage behavior problems with Track Records: Ever get out of speeding ticket? Most likely, it was because of your good track record. Why don’t we teach this amazing life lesson to students?
5 — Employ students to solve your tech problems: Teachers often say that their students know so much about technology, but each time something goes wrong in class, teaching and learning tend to grind to a sudden stop. Many students are highly skilled, and we need to use them to hack our technology woes. So, why not put your team of Tech Gurus together today?
6 — Nurture newbies with Marigolds: Did you know that gardeners use marigolds to nurture more fragile surrounding flowers? It’s true; the marigold fights off aphids that might harm other plants. Imagine a whole committee of “marigolds” at your school and how much they might nurture the newer teachers. Build your Marigold Committee today.
7 — Promote blended learning with the in-class flip: You’ve heard of flipped learning–sending kids home to watch video lectures, so they can implement what they learn at home in school. But what about the kids who don’t have the proper technology at home or the time to watch videos? It’s no problem; simply create the in-class flip. It’s easy when you have a precise plan, and it’s so much more than traditional blended learning.
8 — Create a culture of readers with a Book Nook:“Ha!” you say, “I’ve been using a book nook in my room for years.” Perhaps. And, most likely, it promotes reading. Imagine the power of an entire room at your school, filled with books. “Sure,” you scoff, “we’ve got that too; it’s called the library.” Ah, but what if instead of loaning the books to students, you simply give the books to any kid who wants one?” This Book Nook is a real thing; it creates a culture of readers and might be the most powerful education hack ever created.
9 — Show off with a Glass Classroom: Credit for the original “glass classroom” must go to Maria Montessori–who decided to literally build a window to education, so onlookers could peek inside the classroom and see what teaching and learning looked like. About 100 years later, we can mimic Montessori’s idea, without a single piece of glass. Social media can help teachers build 21st-century transparency, giving parents, administrators, and colleagues a peek at teaching and learning in your classroom.
10 — Reimagine data with a 360 Spreadsheet:Tell me you’re not sick of collecting data. The 360 Spreadsheet, puts a new spin on student data, while providing teachers with a wonderful tool for rapport building–one of the most underrated skills in education. Combine this hack with Track Records, and you are sure to reduce behavior problems this school year.
These quick fixes can truly impact teaching and learning at your school and in your classroom, and we want this for every education stakeholder.