Professional Development and a Little Summer R&R

Guest Blog by Ryan Steuer, Executive Director at Magnify Learning

As classrooms empty and pools fill up, we have an opportunity each year to reflect on what went well and make choices for the coming school year. It’s a good time to celebrate the wins from the year. What was happening this past year when your learners were engaged and you were loving Mondays? When and how did you reach that challenging student? Which lesson or unit brought engagement, smiles, and a desire to work hard? Take a moment to remember why you chose this calling and be renewed by your passion! 

Whether you had an inspired year or a tough one (because we know there are tough ones!), this veteran teacher challenges you to leverage these moments of engagement and passion as the expectation for the new school year.

Sometimes teaching inspiration strikes in the middle of the school year, and it often feels way too difficult to change direction. A new year, however, brings not only new students, but a chance to bring new purpose to our teaching. Your transformative “something new” this year can be philanthropy education!

Philanthropy education values youth as members of society who have time, talent, or treasure to give, and philanthropy instruction gives them tools and practice for taking action for the common good. Students learn about issues, how volunteers have changed the world, and that everyone has something to give. Connected to academic skills, philanthropy education prepares youth for lifelong giving and citizenship.

Each year, there is only one first day. Hundreds of thousands of classrooms are going to start out with seating charts, rules, and long lists of things kids CANNOT do. The challenge this school year is to beat the curve and start Day One by opening the minds of your students to the possibilities of what they CAN do. They CAN make a difference!

Students rise to the level of our expectations, so set expectations high on Day One! Let students know their classwork is going to leave a lasting impact on them and the community. Define philanthropy and establish a caring culture on Day One using one of these lessons (Dear Freshman, Doodle Stones, Book Builders, We're All in This Together) from Learning to Give. Plan a year of philanthropy and service, and guide your students to the expectation of being world changers, innovators, and doers.

How do you make philanthropy education happen?

A new exciting start always sounds like a great idea, but how do we do make it happen? It begins with a decision to transform your classroom to be student centered and purpose driven. You decide to put more responsibility in your students’ hands so they feel ownership and pride in making a difference.  

Second, you need resources and professional development to make sure you are prepared to teach new strategies and content. Start preparing yourself now by taking Learning to Give’s online Fisher mini-courses on how to bring philanthropy into your classroom. These free professional development courses may be completed from your deck with your flip-flops on. Each 45-minute course includes a final quiz and certificate to fulfill your ongoing professional development needs. Increasing your skills helps produce powerful results for you and your learners! 

Third, once you are equipped with the big picture of philanthropy education, find standards-based, teacher-created philanthropic lesson plans on Learning to Give that include service project ideas. The quality of the Learning to Give lesson plans always receives great feedback from teachers across the country. They are flexible, aligned with academic skills and knowledge, and written by classroom teachers. Search by topic or standard and get started with ideas where others have had success!

When you start your year with philanthropy education, you are going to see learners more involved in both academics and their community. When you see this cultural shift in your classroom and motivation in your learners, why stop with just one opening lesson? Look at the rest of your curriculum map and insert more philanthropic lesson plans throughout the year. Learning to Give even offers a Planning Tool!

Define your classroom from Day One to Day 184 with engagement, rigor, and community purpose. The new year will give you a fresh start, and Learning to Give can equip you with the tools to make it stick. Commit to making Day One phenomenal and get started today!

About the author:

Ryan Steuer believes our job as educators is to fill learners with passion to help those around them. Ryan believes Project Based Learning and Service Learning are the vehicles to stirring passion and mastering standards! After starting his career as an Industrial Engineer, Ryan brought his business background to 8th graders in Indianapolis, where he created a PBL school within a school. Now as the Executive Director of Magnify Learning, a nonprofit organization specializing in PBL professional development, Ryan shares his passion for student driven learning environments with teachers across the country.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryansteuer @magnifylearning