CURRICULUM AND TEACHING
Today I spent one on one time helping students and felt really good about how much they benefited and accomplished. Some kids were in band others out of the room for other things. It really reinforces how much more you could do with small class sizes. Fractions! I have the students with MAJOR needs in math and I taught them how to reduce fractions using a multiplication chart and it “clicked!” They thought this was so cool, they suggested that we teach this process to another class. I have parents of kids with difficulties beginning to volunteer in my classroom. This has been so good for the parent as well as the student. It has such a double whammy. Parents of struggling kids see them in a different milieu, see how hard they work, learn new strategies to work with them on, and the kid feels really important because their parent is there as teacher’s helper. My college professor on the last night of class gave us all a personal thank you for being in his class. It was great. Maybe we should remember how good it feels when others thank us. This is something we can do for our kids. At dismissal I decided to excuse the kids by saying “All the mighty cute kids may leave,” figuring all of them would leave. Only 5 lined up. (I was surprised as I thought all these first graders were mighty cute and figured they’d heard that from their parents or grandparents.) So then I said, “Now all the mighty weird kids may leave,” and all but one did. So I said, “All the mighty sports minded may leave,” and the last one bounced up and said “That’s me!” and took off. It made ending the school day a fun experience. All the kids left happy, and so did I! Special help for students whether it be with peer tutors, parent volunteers or teachers working one on one creates such a powerful message to the child as to how important they are. It allows the pacing and teaching to be geared specially toward the learner’s needs and strengths. Peer tutors, especially when they have struggled to gain a great deal of confidence, reinforce the skills they have learned and feel successful and “smart” when they can pass on something they have learned. There was a lot of discussion of cross-age groups where both the younger and older children benefit from the attention and the responsibility and really enjoy the interaction with another, especially when a long term relationship is established. In the same way, receiving a special and personal note from a teacher also makes a student feel important and special, even when that student is an adult. These are ways to build self esteem, confidence, motivate students to achieve and provide new insights for the individual helping or teaching that may benefit them as well as the learner. When a teacher goes beyond routine ways of identifying kids, and addresses what makes them unique in so simple a thing as dismissal, this also supports their feelings of importance and uniqueness. When this is done with warmth and humor, the classroom is seen as a safe and caring environment, the best kind of environment for supporting learning.
Theories behind practice:
Impact on others:
The group discussed the value of having individuals share problems and pleasures with those who really understand. Group problem solving seemed to provide so many more solutions than trying to figure out what to do alone. Communicating with others gave them a fresh perspective, the verbalization of problems often led to their own insights and solutions which were then validated by the support of others. New teachers learned the "jargon" of the district, also as teams faced the challenges of adapting to the grad standards, as well as other inservice and building concerns, they found support, and new meanings via discussion and sharing. (An example of both Constructivist and Social Learning Theory as applied to teachers as learners.) With the complexity of today's educational and social problems, the many, many demands placed on teachers, having colleagues who support one another and have time to solve problems together as well as share the teaching load, the problems and demands become more manageable.