I think it's easier now than ever before to be envious of someone else. Social media gives us a quick glance into a person's life through snapshots. Unfortunately, it makes it easy for us to assume that because they are smiling in a picture that they are happy. Or that they have life so easy because it appears that they have what we do not.
When in reality, success is like an iceberg. We only see a small fraction of the amount of time and effort people put in to have what they have. There is so much more below the surface.
In school, it's especially easy for some of our kids to get frustrated when things do not go their way. For example, that moment in school when the teacher passes back a test. You fail it but your neighbor got a 100%. Now, it may have been easy for them - maybe they did not need to study. But reality is, I'm sure they put in the time and effort to get that good grade.
I talk to my kids a lot about taking their time, doing their best and being persistent when things get tough. Teaching is not just about teaching kids their math facts or how to spell words. It's about instilling in them good work habits, a growth mindset and ....well the list could go on.
Our job as educators is to light a fire - or at least spark a fire. Whether it keeps burning or not - that is their choice. But our job is to spark it and allow our students the opportunity to develop into more than what they thought possible.
Recently I have been the guest teacher in many classrooms and have been able to experiences grades K-3. Each grade level and classroom philosophy is unique and different. The only thing that is the same is the course of action for guided reading instruction.
A couple weeks back I stumbled across an article about guided reading. Honestly, I have no idea where I found it, or what I did with it (I thought I saved it). But a quote stuck with me from the article….
I find that with stations or centers, teachers are busy planning activities that keep students occupied so that they can do guided reading instruction. However, there are a few problems with this plan.
For me, the whole point behind literacy centers is to engage students in meaningful tasks that push their thinking. That give them time to practice skills they need to move them forward with their learning. If you are absent, while this learning is taking place, who is helping to guide students through the learning process.
Don’t get me wrong. I do like the guided reading model. I have read books on it and researched it online. Yet, I find myself in a place of upset when I am conducting guided reading because not only should I be at my table with the 3-5 students that I have seated in front of me, but I should also be with the other 15 left on their own.
I have found there are other more meaningful ways to meet with students. For example, during reader’s workshop, pulling a small strategy group of 3-5 students to work on a particular topic with them. Or sitting down at a station for a quick minute and reviewing a topic with students. Those moments can be just as meaningful if they are planned.
Start thinking outside the box. Using our time wisely is so important. And using the students’ time is important too. Find ways to get creative so learning is happening for all students.
To me, this quote was a showstopper.
I can honestly say I've said it myself - that we need to prepare our students for the real world.
But in reality, most of them are experiencing a world we will never understand.
We need to prepare them the best we can to fit into a world where technology is at the forefront.
Where life changes in a blink of an eye.
Where new jobs are being created that people 50 years ago never thought of.
I get frustrated when I see popular Instagram accounts where picture after picture is a cute new worksheet or activity that you can purchase off TeachersPayTeachers for your students to do.
Yet, those “activities” do not instill creativity.
In fact, they limit it.
Let’s look at education and see how we can change it for our kids.
I’ve said this once, and I know I’ll say it again, create small changes.
Take it step by step.
Put away the old worksheet you’ve brought out year after year and allow students to live in a world of creativity and innovation.
Where they are guiding their learning.
Filling their minds with possibilities by collaborating and researching.
Where they do not have to fill in the blank.
That is preparing them for the future
That is creating a better tomorrow for our youth.
In our fast paced society, we all live in a world that demands a lot of us. Adults have duel responsibilities – being an employee, parent, child, honest member of society, etc. We have a lot of expectations placed on us daily. Not only do adults have that large role, but so do children.
Children in today's society are asked to also partake in a world that is more than what they are capable of doing on their own. They are asked to sift through emotions that are greater than what they know what to do with. They are learning things that are more advanced that what they should be learning at their age. Children need time to be kids. But that time, to be a kid, is squeezed in between school, sports and other obligations.
When can children be kids these days? What are the expectations for them? We have expectations for them in school. They are to make a certain grade on things or else they are behind. We have certain expectations for them in sports so that they can be the star player or make the better team. But what are the expectations we have for them to be a kid? Do we allow them time to run and play? Or are they expected to partake in other activities that do not allow that.
Recently I did a long term in kindergarten and it was a challenge to fit playtime into their day. Some days I could squeeze only 15 minutes of playtime in. Eeek! For 5 and 6 year olds, play is the most important part of their day. It allows them time to socialize. And when I say socialize I don’t just mean talking – I mean learning how to play cooperatively, using their words to solve conflicts and being creative. So much happens during that short time period, except, we do not have the time to allow it.
Since children have so many expectations on them at school – allow their time at home to be freer. Do not sign them up for too many after school activities. Encourage them to play outside. Sit and talk with them – do not put them in front of the tv or ipad. Have dinner together. Talk about their day with them. Let them be a kid and teach them about life.
Saying goodbye is one of the most difficult things I think we have to do in life. It is difficult to say goodbye to the things we cherish most. My career, and the lives I touch, has always been one of those things – it’s my passion.
Currently, I am finishing my last three days of a long-term in kindergarten. For the past few weeks I have been reminding myself that I will be moving on and their teacher will be coming back. It’s been difficult for me to think that in a few days time I will not be the one taking care of them - watching them grow.
Although, I think the most difficult day was yesterday. One of my students came to me and said today was his last day. Me, being my usual positive self, I shared how exciting moving can be, it means meeting new friends and going to a new school. By the look on his face, he wasn’t buying it. So I asked him how he felt about moving he replied with bad. I said, “Will you miss me?” He said he would. I shared with him that I would too.
However, I also loving shared that all he has to do is think of me and know that I am thinking of him too. We will never be far away…all he has to do is wish me well and know that I am doing the same to him.
Tears still well up in my eyes thinking of that conversation.
My daily goal is to talk to all of my students individually. Not to give them a direction or to help them on an assignment but to actually make some kind of meaningful conversation. Whether it is about their outfit or how they did such great thinking – something that singles them out as an individual and let them know I care. I think we forget that we are in this for more than a paycheck or data points – we are in this for the betterment of humanity. It is because of that time I spend with my kids, building relationships with them, that they trust me and try their best. And when it’s time to say goodbye, it makes it all the harder.
But if saying goodbye means I touched someone’s life, then it’s worth every emotion.