After spending six years as a third-grade teacher before working in leadership roles in both public education and the EdTech industry, there are three activities that the technology industry uses that, should I go back to the classroom, I would implement on Day 1.
No. 1: Daily or weekly standups
What’s the best way to have a well-run organization (whether a classroom or an EdTech company)? Communicate! Take 10 minutes every morning and assemble your students in a large circle. Go through the day, discuss what is expected to happen that day, and give every student a chance to ask questions. Not only will doing so ensure everyone is on the same page, everyone’s day will run smoother.
Oh, and what’s with the “standup”? Students will stand up for the meeting. There isn’t a more effective way to keep a meeting short and on-task than by making everyone stand up while it’s happening.
No. 2: Have a Scrum Board
Software companies love Scrum Boards. A Scrum Board is a tool that helps teams at EdTech companies know about new features for a product, when they are due to be released, and where they are on the product roadmap. The board can look any number of different ways, but a very common “look”, as shown below, includes sticky notes on a chart with columns that show the stage of each new feature or task.
For a classroom, don’t make your Scrum Board so complicated. Maybe try just a few columns: To Do, Doing, Done. Students can use this board to track goals, tasks required to complete a group assignment or even mastery of a skill or concept.
No. 3: Ring the bell!
Make no mistake, right behind the intercom, bells are the most intrusive systems in classrooms and I don’t think many teachers would support more bells interrupting learning. But, in the workplace, ringing a bell is not the way employees know when to stop doing “this” and start doing “that” like the way many schools use bells to determine when math is over and PE begins.
Bells can be a way to let students know something positive has happened somewhere in the classroom. Full disclosure: This is stolen from car dealerships where a bell is rung with every car sale. But, at Otus, whether the accomplishment is big or small, we ring the bell. A code bug is squashed … ring! A sale is made … ring!
Bottom line, find your bell. You don’t have to literally ring a bell in your classroom, but do make a point to publicly celebrate successful moments with your students. Everyone has bad days and by “ringing the bell,” you are showing that despite your bad day, good moments are always happening in your classroom.
Did you give one of these ideas a shot? Do tell!
About the author
Keith taught third grade, served as a K-8 technology coordinator, and was a middle school principal during his 10 years working in school districts. He left public education to work with his childhood friend who had started an EdTech company. That company, Aspex Solutions (now part of Frontline Education), grew up to provide AppliTrack and K12JobSpot.com to thousands of school districts and millions of job seekers throughout the country. Now, Keith is the COO of Otus, a fast-growing EdTech company based in Chicago’s popular Fulton Market neighborhood. He moonlights as an Adjunct Professor at DePaul University.