I admitted in my previous post that sometimes I struggle to be patient…especially when I get a good idea for my classroom. I tend to leap right into things and can find myself (or my students) frustrated.
After spending (and in hindsight, sometimes wasting) a lot of time, here are some tips for making your own instructional materials:
Creating useful, quality learning tools takes time. When you get a good idea, work on the rough draft, let it sit, and come back to it. There is always room for improvement.
Realize there is a learning curve. Unfortunately, I only teach one section of Language Arts. My students are always the guinea pigs. If I had multiple sections, I am sure I would modify and tweak my instruction, materials, and delivery.
Don’t invest too much too early. My biggest mistake is thinking of an idea and simply running wild with it (i.e. creating multiple pages or an entire unit before I present even one lesson). Don’t create more work for yourself by working too far ahead. The layout or organization of handouts may need to be changed. Directions may be unclear. Or, worst case scenario, the idea totally doesn’t work like you thought it would and it ends up in the recycling bin.
Seek professional help. As hard as it is to be critiqued by your colleagues, share your work with a trusted and experienced co-worker. I run things by a reading specialist who works with my students. She has a very similar philosophy and understands what my goals and expectations are
Take on a student perspective. If you are making a handout, worksheet, graphic organizer, or study guide imagine how you would react if you were the student. How does it look on paper? Do the directions make sense? What is confusing? What isn’t clear? Perhaps most importantly, make sure as a student you can answer these questions:
“Why am I doing this?”
“What am I supposed to be learning?”