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  • Writer's pictureTeri Marx

The Ten Essentials

In 2022, I set out to complete the 52 Hike Challenge to help me get back into nature, meet new people, and spend some quality time with my pup Cali. For those unfamiliar with the challenge, the premise is simple: "One hike, every week for one year." To start 2023, I will be sharing key takeaways from the challenge as they relate to teaching and learning.

The Ten Essentials

It's well known in the hiking community that you need to be prepared. So much so that almost every hiking website includes a list of "ten essentials." While there are some variations, the following items are most common:

  1. Navigation aids

  2. Sun protection

  3. Weather protection (rain gear or insulation...depending on the season)

  4. Lighting

  5. First-aid kits

  6. Fire starters

  7. All-in-one tool/Knife

  8. Food/snacks

  9. Water/water treatment supplies

  10. Extra clothes

An image of a hiker's backpack and clothing on a rock.

What I found interesting when I first started hiking was that these ten essentials weren't just included in hiker's packs for long trips. Seasoned hikers carry these items with them on every hike. Why? Because there could be a shift in the weather, you could encounter a wild animal, or you could trip over a rock and break your ankle. And, those things can happen on the shortest hike, close to home, and on the sunniest of days. My additions to this list based on my experiences--the right shoes/boots (waterproof is best) and wool socks!

Connections to Teaching and Learning

Every educator can easily identify the materials they need for any given lesson--pencils, paper, Base-10 blocks, calculator, smart board. But, their planning goes deeper than that. They think about how they will group students and what content they might need to review before digging into something new. Unfortunately, educators don't often have adequate time to plan. Like with hiking, having a list of items that can be "packed" in advance can reduce the impacts of anything unexpected throwing you off course.

So, here are "Ten Essentials" for educators that can lead to intentional, thoughtful lessons in *hopefully* less time:

  1. Create structures and routines that students own to reduce time spent on transitions.

  2. Teach and reinforce expectations to minimize disruptions.

  3. Start with the end in mind by answering "what do I want my students to know or do by the end of this [lesson, unit, semester]?" List out the learning objectives first.

  4. Create a lesson routine and follow it. [example: warm-up, whole class lesson, group work, share out, exit ticket]

  5. Focus the bulk of the lesson/class on active student work time to reduce time spent planning a lengthy whole class lesson.

  6. Review students' IEPs/504 plans and make a list of the accommodations/modifications that are needed. Put the list in a visible place.

  7. Email/text yourself at the end of each lesson/class with information about where you left off, what students were on/off track, and ideas for the next lesson/class.

  8. Pull out last year's quizzes/tests and use the questions as warm-ups or exit tickets.

  9. Leverage curricular resources rather than trying to create your own (aka...don't fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole).

  10. Create a shared folder for each unit/chapter/lesson and save resources, videos, and presentations to locate easily the next time you have to teach that content.

Here's a bonus tip for good measure: Unlike the ten essentials for knives allowed.


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