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I am a wife, mother and first grade teacher. I am so blessed and love my life!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

trends of the time

I went to my classroom today. The first time this summer. My goal for this week is to clean one file drawer a day until I have gone through every file. I started at 8:00 and left at 10:30. It wasn't that the drawer was that full it was that first I had to chat with Mr. Bob the janitor. I then walked into my classroom and decided I needed to move a shelf, move my reading table, move my polka-dot rocking chair, measure the desks for these cool shelves I want my hubby to build me, drew a picture of the shelves, made a list of the cool storage crates/chairs I saw on another blog (check them out here- http://whattheteacherwants.blogspot.com/2011/07/i-gave-in.html), I think I will make some for my "square table" my kiddos use to read or write on.  Finally I opened a file drawer.
I have been teaching ten years. When I started teaching my good friend and my children's first grade teacher retired and "left" me her room and almost everything in it. I have gone through much of it kept most, traded some, and replaced some. But I have never gone through all of the files...
until now. I searched every folder, every packet she had (in one drawer).
It was filled with lessons and worksheets. I have used some of these through the years, but as I went through each I couldn't help but wonder if I've been doing them justice. Both of my children were in this first grade. They have always been awesome readers and students, and I have always contributed it to having the same first grade teacher. I can remember them bringing stacks of papers home every day. My students on the other hand do not. I too have had many awesome readers and students through the years.
So I am pondering what makes the difference...are some kids just destined to be great students? Is it the input from home? Is it the teacher? The amount of work vs. authentic reading time? Debbie Miller and Patrick Allen ensure us it's the conferring and time. But my children's teacher did not confer, she had leveled reading groups, and didn't have independent reading until the second half of the year. I do confer, have flexible reading groups, and have a lot of independent reading time from the very beginning. I don't do a lot of worksheets, but my friend did (and so do other teacher's I know) and if you think about it they are reading when they do worksheets. So who are we to judge?
I could justify it and say it was because of her and our support at home that my kids did so well, but it wasn't just my children, it was many.
It almost leads me to believe that kids learn regardless of the teaching or teacher. Kids are just naturally observant and curious, and they adjust their learning styles based on what is being presented and how. And maybe ten years from now the trend will turn back to worksheets and ability groups because someone somewhere will decide "that's the best way for kids to learn."
Well that's what I almost believe....almost.
I wonder what I'll discover to ponder tomorrow?


elsie said...

Sometimes kids learn in spite of the teacher. Ask your kids if they have fond memories of worksheets, what do they remember from first grade? More than likely it will be something they read or did. The kids in your class know that you care about them when you take the time to talk to them about their reading and writing. Follow your heart and continue to allow kids to read, lots.

teacherdance said...

Sometimes it's much more than the direct things that happen in the classroom. Perhaps your friend taught beautifully using those worksheets, and you teach another way, but also very well. It's that undefinable piece that is so hard to put your finger on.

Donna Smith said...

I have taught long enough and in enough places, and have done both methods and variations of the two. I seem to have gotten the same results any of those ways. I think it must be the "something elses" that are going on!

Ruth said...

The line that speaks loudest to me is the one about what you almost believe. The way you crafted that line really speaks to the uncertainty and tentativeness of your thinking and a willingness to consider multiple possibilities. I know that most of us (including me) have our own firmly held beliefs and also draw on observation/experience, but I also believe that we have to be willing to step outside them from time to time and ponder things.
On an unrelated note, I really like the new wallpaper for your blog! Very cool.