This week the elementary Instructional Coaches in my district began reading High Impact Instruction by Jim Knight. We are working on a playbook of the Big Four, Content Planning, Formative Assessment, Instruction, and Community Building, and are using this book as the framework of our work.
As I began reading the content planning section, I was struck by how Knight began the chapter. Rather than jumping right in and discussing guiding or essential questions, he took the time to explain that through content planning, teachers are adding to their legacy. Knight shared that a teacher's legacy is passed on through "modeling, instruction, encouragement, feedback, smiles, and suggestions," which reminded me of a phrase Dave Burgess says often "lessons they'll forget, experiences they'll remember forever." (Don't worry, I promise this wont turn into yet another post about Dave Burgess and his book Teach Like a Pirate) So how does a teacher's legacy tie in to content planning? Well, Knight says neither content planning or legacy is more important than the other, but that as you sit down to plan a lesson or unit, to ask yourself what you want students to remember ten years from now. This question allows you to weed out the minute details and focus in on the big ideas that will transcend lessons, content areas, and even grade levels.
Now that I am not in the classroom full time, and am instead supporting teachers as an Instructional Coach, I am still leaving a legacy, but rather than being solely based on my teaching in my classroom, it's occurring through my professional learning opportunities, coaching cycles, and yes, even social media. Through these venues I am supporting current classroom teachers looking to impact student learning and grow as professionals. I don't know what my legacy will be. I have goals, dreams, and hopes for my professional career, and work towards those every day, but ultimately it isn't up to me to decide.
So, get planning and as you do remember to focus on the big ideas, experiences, and doing what you know is best for kids!