Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Messy Desks and Messy Instruction

As I prepare to leave Springfield to tackle instructional challenges in New York City's iZone schools, I've been reflecting upon how we (as adults) make meaning. Earlier this week, I was fervently cleaning out my files and my desk.

Now, I'm not exactly a hoarder, but I DO like to keep things. A lot of things.

As I moved through each section of my office, I realized that I needed to do a few things to make things clear for my successor:

1. Get rid of anything that was outdated or not important. When learning something new, it's critical to emphasize the most vital content. Eliminating unnecessary information reduces opportunities for confusion.

2. Reorganize files so that the most important information is on top. As my successor learns the job, he won't have time to decide what is most important. I must make it easy for him by prioritizing the information.

3. Build contact webs. Since I will only have a limited amount of time to work with my successor, it is imperative that I introduce him to members of the organization that will be able to assist him in the future. (Because I'm sure I'll forget SOMETHING.)

Think about the implications this has for our students as we plan curriculum. Here are a few things we need to do for our students to help them make meaning:

1. Get rid of anything in your curriculum that's outdated or not important. Just because you've "always done it" doesn't mean it's still worth doing!

2. Ensure that students get the most important, overarching information. What does it mean to be a competent individual? Focus on the skills strategies, and content that move students towards competency.

3. Build information relationships for students instead of delivering content. Understanding that you won't be able to teach students everything they need to know, showing them instead where they can find relevant content.

An organized desk and an organized curriculum both promote learning by design.

Photo Credit


  1. I wish more university staff followed this model ~:-)

  2. It is SO hard to cut down on content once you've mastered it!



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