Teachers are often so busy with day-to-day routines that professional self-improvement falls by the wayside. Short-term challenges can be a useful tool for avoiding this. With the right 30-day challenge ideas, you can take your teaching to the next level.
A 30-day challenge is a self-improvement method that involves picking something to do consistently for 30 days. Some people use these challenges to focus on getting healthier by following a certain diet or exercising diligently each day. Others use it to "detox" from behaviors they see as negative, such as watching too much TV or using social media too often.
But 30-day challenges can also be a useful way for teachers to sharpen their skills in a particular area. Here are five 30-day challenge ideas teachers should try:
1. 30 Days of Journaling
Taking time to write at the end of each day allows you to unwind, reflect upon your successes, and evaluate what you can do better tomorrow. Journaling allows you to clear your emotions and reflect upon each day's lessons, strategies, and activities. You might be surprised at how beneficial journaling can be—and how relaxing, too!
2. 30 Days of Reading a Biography
There are many inspiring and influential historical figures whose stories can impact your teaching—and not just if you're a history teacher. Start by choosing a person you're interested in learning more about. It could be someone relevant to the subjects you teach, but it doesn't have to be. Head to your local library or bookstore and pick a biography about that person. Set a goal for how much of the book you plan to read each day of the challenge. After reading, reflect on ways you can improve your teaching or change your mind-set based on what you learned.
Further reading: 5 Ways to Start Your Summer Goals Now
3. 30 Days of Learning a Language
If your classroom has a lot of English language learner (ELL) students who share a particular first language, spending a month learning that language can help you connect with them. Consider using Rosetta Stone, a free app like Duolingo, or inquiring about an online ELL endorsement. No matter your approach, be sure to set a goal for how much time you want to put toward studying a language each day. Learning a new language can help you build relationships with your ELL students while gaining a more profound understanding of their culture.
4. 30 Days of Tutoring
I love being able to see student progress in all areas, whether it's big or small. There is no greater feeling than when you see a student mastering a concept or skill they used to struggle with. Tutoring a student each day or each week over the summer, or during planning period, lunch period, or before or after school, can make a huge difference not only for that student, but for yourself, too. This opportunity allows teachers to see how students learn best and how to meet the needs of a variety of learners in new ways.
5. 30 Days of Book Study
A book study is when a group of teachers read and discuss a particular book. They can be very powerful tools for developing your skill set as a teacher. Organize a group of your colleagues to take part in a group book study that meets at least twice a week for one hour. Then choose a book about a particular aspect of pedagogy.
On the days when you don't meet, you should be spending time reading the book and preparing for the next meeting. This is a great way to share ideas and learn from one another. Use this as an opportunity to sharpen your skills by diving into a good book that sparks your passion and enthusiasm for teaching.
Further reading: 3 Tips for Finding Summer Jobs for Teachers
All of these 30-day challenge ideas require time, energy, and commitment, but they're well worth it. They will help you become a more effective teacher in the coming school year.