- 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
This morning in church our pastor talked about the limited time we have from Thanksgiving to Christmas. As a society we have become this time driven people, always moving towards the next thing. You have seen the memes, thankful today for all that I have but Black Friday shopping tomorrow. We have somehow done away with time. We do not linger and relax, we do not reflect and breath, we rush and we move and we go and we look at what is next. This push has created a society of wasteful, anxious people. We have children that recite information when they need to apply and create. We have children that look into themselves and they need to look around to network with others. What can we do during this season to make an impact that outlasts time?
Christmas is my favorite time of year. I believe in Santa Claus as the spirit of giving. The donations and collections for those in need are everywhere you turn. My family adopts a Christmas Bureau family and we encourage our children to think of others' needs. There is a paying it forward attitude that should be celebrated beyond this season. We need to teach our students to give and to reflect. We need to teach our students to take time developing interests and hobbies, talents and relationship. As an educator it is our responsibility to model and talk about spending time.
Between the crunch time of Thanksgiving and Christmas break I am going to focus my attention to give to my students. I am making it a stated objective to model spending time on things that I love, talk about giving to others, and using talents to help. Here are three things you can do in your classroom to join me in these objectives.
What would happen if you spent time connecting your classroom? Students around the US have been writing the things they are thankful for this past week. When I taught kinder and first grade it was an excellent time to cover wants and needs. We focus on the "stuff" though. Push your students to think about, describe and determine what else they are thankful for. Do writing activities to focus on details of specifics. Go beyond the family and the latest gaming fad into the details that make them thankful for these things. Learn about other cultures and compare your school to schools around the globe. Connect with another classroom. What would that do to change thinking? With the technology we have today it is possible to talk to and interact with students around the globe. Spend time learning about others and sharing what you are learning in your classroom. The best assessment of an objective is if you can teach it to someone else. Connect.
What would happen if you spent time reflecting? Feedback and reflection are an important part of the learning process. Teach your students to reflect on their own learning. When you are done with a unit pause, reflect, question. What was learned? What was not learned? What more do they want to learn? How can this be done? Teachers are no longer the keeper of knowledge. Learning happens beyond our classroom walls and if we teach students to reflect on what they want to do, their time may be spent learning at home. One of the greatest struggles I have as an educator is the crunch of time. I have responsibilities and there comes a point where we must move on. Units must end. Assessments must be given. But is we teach students to reflect and to questions we are giving them a gift of time outside of our classrooms. A curious mind is impossible to stop.
"What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?" --John Green. The third thing you can do is help your students focus on the individual strengths and weaknesses they each possess. We are given our gifts for specific purposes. Helping students identify those gifts will enable them to use their time to help others. In this season of giving ask students how they can give. Our hallway has a monthly calendar for students. I am going to post suggestions for random acts of kindness this month. In my classroom we are going to reflect on what we have and what talents we have been given. We are going to pay it forward and help others as we talk about focusing outside of our selfish, personal bubbles and look at those around us. These lessons will allow students to network and grow. Sharing part of yourself with someone else is a process we need to teach.
Amidst the end of the semester testing and crazy, we are going to laugh and have fun. I choose to spend my time living, connecting and being the example of what is important in life. I choose to focus on the time I have this season. I encourage you to join me in taking time for our students. Think about what could happen in our society if we joined together to give. What are you going to do with your time?