September is a contradiction; the summer wanes and the leaves begin to turn. The grass, at least in my yard, grows more slowly and yellows. September is a month of endings. But of course, for teachers, it’s a month of beginnings. The things that came to an end in June are ready to begin again.

Many of those same routines will get dusted off and taught to a new class of students. Many of those same lessons will make a reappearance, ready to help students understand things they didn’t understand before.

One of the wonderful things about teaching is the cycles: the repeated rhythms of change. Humans crave both novelty and constancy, and cyclicality suffices to meet those desires. September is a month for new beginnings, again.

But of course, those new beginnings are never quite the same. If we’re growing as teachers and as learners, we’re a little wiser every year, and those lessons and routines are a little more refined. The cycle of teaching is like a dangling slinky — spiraling in cycles, but moving generally upward toward greater and greater pedagogical excellence.

Sometimes the slinky is tangled. Sometimes those revisions and refinements fall flat. Once in a while, a new lesson we try bombs, or a new routines fizzles. But incorporating small, bold changes — and by rejecting what fails and adopting what flies — we become a little more than we were before.

And that is what education is all about.

I work for a really wonderful, nonprofit organization that supports teachers and schools. We’ve tried a wide variety of approaches to providing this assistance, looking for just the right alchemy. Sometimes it’s been a disaster, but every day, we’re learning a little more about what works — about how to help the incredible people who do the difficult, critical job of creating the world of the future. I encourage you to check them out. Strategy Explorations can help you come up with that new routine or idea to try. Timely Topics is full of new lessons to explore. Let us know what you think — what works and what doesn’t. And if there’s something you don’t see — something that would make your job easier or your work more effective, let us know. As fellow educators, we’re always looking for ways to continue to climb that slinky.

*Image courtesy of Roger McLassus via Wikimedia Commons.

For more free educational resources, check out out these teacher-tested Timely Topics from Blue Apple!