It's a Friday morning, the end of a long week. I would be checking my email as I arrive in the morning. There would be a little extra pep in my step because on Friday’s this time last year my 7th grade science classes would be on the maiden journey of my Genius Hour experiment. The first thing I would do is tell myself not to worry about how to assess the Genius Hour projects(that part worried me a little). Stick to the one simple rule they had, the projects need to be shared with each other and the world. Ambitious, I know, but it would be something that those eigth grade students are still talking about every time I walk into that building to this day. They tell me “how they used this to create that, I learned this because of that, and why aren’t you my science teacher anymore?”
Part two of that email would go a something like this: find ways to replicate Genius Hour to pass on to your science team. Recreate some of those tools that the students are using and bring in to science class to engage their learning there. Get the students to drive their own learning. Be a facilitator to their learning by creating a blended classroom. There are so many wonderful things that I get to see teachers doing around the district that would help you with this. Find ways for BlendSpace to work or PowerMyLearning, maybe flip your content, but create your own for both of those when possible. Don’t worry if you fail, because you will learn from those more than you will a perceived success. Find a way to use the data from your students meaningfully. Have the data shape how you teach to create that rigor and growth mindset in those students. A lot of those digital tools the kids used would make a great start to a Makerspace, by the way!
P.S. I know you have been a user of Twitter longer than most of your friends, but there is so much more there that you don’t even know. The PLNs that I have built through chats and just connecting have been some of the best learning you have created for yourself ever. Research this more, find some of those classrooms out there to do a MysterySkype. Connect outside the district to expand your learning. Also, that student tech team you have been kicking around for a few years, see what you could do with that, find the time because there are students that would flourish doing this!
Snapping back to present day…here I am almost through my first year of being an instructional technology coordinator and being out of a classroom setting for the first time in 21 years. What would I be doing this year if I was still in that classroom? I would be developing and building on to what I had already developed and that year 2 of Genius Hour would have been like version 2.0 with a little caffeine injected. I would hope that I present me would get a hold of some of these ideas and keep trying things out and don't worry about the failure, learn from it.