Hi and welcome to Classroom Culture : the Short series. Today I wanted to take the time to introduce myself to you and tell you about my experience and where I got these ideas from.
I have been a teacher for 8 years. I’ve taught children in young 5s, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and fourth grade. However, I’ve spent the most time teaching children in young 5s and fourth grade. I also have my masters in early childhood.
This idea of creating a web series on classroom culture has been running in my mind for 5 years. I’ve pondered how best to do this series but finally decided to just go for it….and share my experiences and growth as an educator. In hopes that it will help someone else.
First and fore more, I must say, I believe in developing a classroom culture that is learner centered. Where the focus is on both students and teacher.
This whole journey started for me when I was student teaching. I had a class of 29 second graders and I struggled at first with “classroom management.”
From there, I worked with kindergarteners and eventually moved into Development Kindergarten which is a fancy way of saying young 5s. In my young 5s class, it was me and 19 - 4 almost 5 year olds. Creating a classroom culture and managing a room of littles became my full time job. Without a culture, I was an ineffective teacher.
So quickly, I learned what worked. I was constantly learning, adjusting, and reflecting on my practices.
I have read and continue to read many books on classroom culture…or books that I feel will help me to learn more about classroom culture.
A few of my favorites the leader in me, love and logic, the morning meeting book, power struggles, lost at school, challenging behavior in young children, 1-2-3 magic. Conscious discipline is one of my ULTILMATE favorites. I highly recommend that.
I also really like creating cultures of thinking. And for my first year teachers, the first days of school. It’s a great starter book.
One that I’m currently reading is Implementing Restorative Practice in Schools: A Practical Guide to Transforming School Communities.
So what is this web series going to hold?
Well today, was an intro into who I am and what I do.
Coming up, I have episodes on relationships, the “flow,” labeling, spaces, language, management systems?, leadership, time….. and more. If you have something you’d like to see, comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
I think it's safe to say no teacher ever imagined teaching their students from home. UNLESS you wanted to be an online teacher or you were a parent who wanted to homeschool their children.
Throughout college, I never imaged teaching my kids from a computer. Trying to gauge their level of participation. Their level of understanding. It just wasn't something I thought I was going to have to do. It still is crazy to me that we are living in a time when we are social distancing.
Yet, while I am saddened that I am not with my kids - deeply saddened. I feel a sense of renewal.
I find myself doing things I haven't done before. For example, I'm actually researching and using technology. A few months ago, I would have consider myself tech savvy. But now, I am at a whole new level. Thanks, social distancing! LOL.
But for real. The last time I updated my blog was a year ago.
I don't feel tired.
I don't feel burned out.
I don't feel overwhelmed by papers to grade.
I don't feel the weight of new curriculum hanging over my head.
And yet. I'm not doing anything different.
As a matter of fact, I'm checking papers more regularly and keeping tabs on my kids work daily. I actually have time to invest into grading papers and seeing their progress.
And while I miss them terribly. (I seriously hoped we would be back together again now.) I do feel a sense of renewal and for that...I am grateful.
I am playing games, going for walks outside, and attempting a blog again.
I find myself wanting to find things to do, not just sitting in front of the tv.
And no, I'm not complaining. But I do think it's good to reflect on how life has shifted and think about how we want life to be when things go back to somewhat normal.
Until next time.
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.