“Pack it in a small suitcase.”
That’s what a colleague told me after commiserating over our struggle to streamline our lesson plans. There are common core standards to consider, differentiated student needs, personal interests and curiosities, and high hopes for what can be accomplished within a single class period. Like many teachers, I find myself planning multi-layered lessons, only to feel frustrated when they are derailed by student distractions or fly over students’ heads for myriad reasons.
So my colleague’s words, “Pack it in a small suitcase,” were refreshing. As a traveler, it was a metaphor that my mind readily processed. When packing for a trip, my first impulse is usually to pack all 10 of my favorite dresses (or what have you). But when it comes down to actually carrying my suitcase around, I’m a lot happier when I just choose the three dresses that are most versatile (adaptable) and durable.
I’ve kept this in mind while planning out the last quarter of my first teaching year. It hasn’t been about leaving things out, but about narrowing down to key essentials. And, honestly, I’ve felt my load become lighter. Even better, I’ve seen my students ready to grasp on to the carefully-chosen pieces I present to them. A single, small suitcase is a lot easier to carry than a stack.