- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
Going into the classroom to finish up the second decade of my career I still learn. My room and my style are different from that first class 19 years ago, but the philosophy behind what I do has not changed. I believe in active learning. I believe in appreciating differences. I believe every child has a right to learn. I believe learning is fun!
Teaching has changed. From the 19th century one-room school houses to the charter schools of today things are different. Society has changed. From a primarily farming society to a double working or single parent household of today things are different. Technology has changed. From a party-line run by the telephone operator to a personal computerized cell phone in your back pocket today things are different. These differences impact our classrooms. We have more data and research on education and learning than ever before. Teaching has changed, or has it?
What would you do if you could not lecture? Students today learn from hands on interactive instruction. Reading is done in guided reading groups. Math instruction allows students to work together to solve problems and then discuss the solutions. Science labs allow students hands on experiences. The role of classroom educators should shift in from being the sole holder of knowledge to being the manager of learning. How often do you lecture?
What would you do if you had no desks? Students use all modalities to learn and learn in many ways. They may need to do activities to help with sensory input. Some students stand when working. Some students like to sit on the floor. Some students need a quiet place free from distractions. Providing a choice of seating arrangements will allow your students to work to their best ability. You need to set expectations and help students, especially younger student, determine what works best for them. But if you have rows or groups of desks, they cannot learn how they learn best. What work spaces and options are available in your classroom?
What would you do if you lost control? Project based learning and differentiation allow many students to work on their own. There is a balance of guidance with clear expectations and student ownership in the work. Providing resources and quality sample criteria for the work is necessary. The teacher's role is shifted to giving quality feedback and direction (or redirection) in the learning. Students make choices for content, process, product and/or environment. How much ownership do your students have in making choices?
What would you do if there was a national ban on homework? Students and families are active today. Many students have sports, music, church, extra activities or may even hold down a job. Sending homework as a task to complete only complicates this home-school connection. Most of the time, those who need the extra help do not complete the homework. The experiences and background knowledge students learn outside of the classroom enables them to make connections in reading and provides ideas for writing. Providing suggestions for activities, web sites, apps and learning opportunities opens doors for families. How much of your teaching relies on the completion of homework?
The information we have today on teaching, classroom environment and brain based learning shows us how to teach. Before differentiation was a method I was pulling students in groups to teach math based on the observations of what they knew. Students who needed re-teaching were given time and opportunities with direct instruction while students who had mastered the learning were pushed into the next idea or content standard. Teachers know what learning looks and feels like. We, unfortunately, have outside influences that demand we make it through the proper checklists and provide the relevant data. We have monetary restrictions and decision being made that are outside of our control. But, we know what to do. We know how to teach. So, think about what you need and how you can make it real. What would your classroom look like if you could?!