Coming soon... Classroom Management 101

5 Signs Your Teaching is Stuck in a Rut

teaching Nov 08, 2017

I love switching things up from year to year, but not everyone does.

As teachers, we can get stuck in a rut, stuck in habits and routines that aren't always helpful. In short, we cease to grow. 

The top 5 signs your teaching is stuck in a rut are: 

  1. You reuse all your lessons from previous years without any revision.

  2. Students and families know the drill before the year starts because you are known for doing certain projects.

  3. If you hear yourself saying, "We always do it that way" or "This is how we do it every year" you just might be stuck.

  4. Change is not your thing.

  5. Your desk position and classroom configuration stay the same all year.

Don't stay stuck.

As nice as it is to feel like we "have it down" or finally can do the same things as last year and not have to create anything new. Don't go there. It's a deadly trap. Don't get trapped into doing the same thing and reusing old plans in their entirety.

I know it's tempting to take it easy with planning and reuse plans as it. Before you do, just take a minute and go back to your WHY. WHY do you teach? Why did you choose this as a profession? Answer this now, before you go on.

Remember that WHY as you read on. Let it inspire and challenge you.

Now, take the lessons for the coming weeks and make them better.  

Remember that WHY. Don't your students deserve your very best? Better than just fine? Sure, your lesson worked before. But, is this the same class as last year? No. The kids aren't the same and neither are you (at least I hope you aren't). Go ahead and use the framework of what you did before, but tailor the lesson for THIS CLASS.

Spice it up.

Refine it. 

Make it better.


Surprise everyone. Create a new (and better) project to replace an old one.

Being known for the same projects every year is NOT a badge of honor. It's a sign you're stuck. Pick a project to completely change. There's a lot of resources out there, so use them. Go on Pinterest for some inspiration. Google projects around your topic and grade. Have fun with it, and enjoy surprising everyone.

Take a leap of faith. Take your team up on a suggested change to how things are done.

Next time your team suggests a change in how things are done, got for it! Surprise them by taking them up on it. (Just be ready to catch them when they faint.) You can insist on a few parameters that will make you feel more comfortable, but don't get too picky.

Baby steps. Commit to changing one lesson every week or month. 

Trying something new doesn't mean starting over. One great thing about teaching is we get to improve on our work from year to year. Don't get stuck in a rut. Challenge yourself to make your lessons better every year. Once a lesson has been perviously planned and taught, the hard work is done. Improving on it is the fun stuff! 

Think of teaching and lesson plans like making cookies. The first time I make a new recipe, I follow the directions (the plan) exactly. If they don't turn out well, I get rid of the recipe. If they come out well, I'll keep it and tweak it the next time to make them even better. That's the fun part.

Rearrange your classroom at least once a year.

I know, I know. It's a bit of work. But you don't have to change everything. Pick a few things to move around or swap places. Who knows?! Maybe you've been missing out all this time on your new favorite setup.

One more time. Here's those 5 steps to help you climb out of that rut. 

  1. Change one thing in each lesson to make your lessons better.

  2. Surprise everyone. Create a new (and better) project to replace an old one.

  3. Take a leap of faith. Take your team up on a suggested change to how things are done.

  4. Baby steps. Commit to changing one thing every week or month.

  5. Rearrange your classroom at least once a year.

Go dig in and have some fun with your teaching. 

Teach joyfully,




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