Sunday, August 29, 2010

School, School, and More School

First grade students enact short slap-stick stories and knock-knock jokes in the style of Jon Scieszka's Cowboy and Octopus with stick puppets of unlikely pairs they made for literature connection class.

Second grade students act out scenes for a book they are writing in the style of David Shannon's No, David! after studying several of Shannon's books. Their book will be called No, Second Grade! They are illustrating it with photographs.

My daughter and I went to a wonderful book-signing/reading on August 25, 2010, at Lemuria Books to meet Deborah Wiles whose newest book is Countdown. We are reading it together before bedtime and loving it!

I have facilitated 3 workshops on learning styles for 2 groups of parents and 1 group of teachers in the past month. I'm so excited that Poplar Springs Elementary in Meridian, MS, has given all of their students a learning styles inventory!

I apologize for not blogging in one month. My only excuse is that almost every ounce of my creative energy (and time) has gone towards school, school, and more school-- both in school, on the road, and at home.

For teachers, the beginning of the school year is super concentrated. There is so much to do, and we want/need to be prepared for anything. I especially want my first interactions with my students (all 100 plus of them) to be positive and engaging. With the addition of 3 year olds to the school where I teach, I have had to re-tool and re-think what works and doesn't work for our youngest students. Teaching students with creative lessons, managing classrooms of students from age 3 to 12, remembering that each student is unique with different learning styles and abilities, and keeping in mind age-appropriate expectations across the board is both challenging and invigorating.

But I am also a parent of students at two other schools and must help them navigate all of the beginning of school issues from the other side of the teaching/learning equation--learning new rules, new teachers, new classmates, and new expectations. Besides helping them with homework (the easy part), I listen to stories about their day, reports on what is happening inside and outside the classroom, and how it makes them feel. I try to give them strategies for dealing with anything that comes their way.

I've been thinking a lot about education. Here is my hope for how I will be a teacher to my students and for how my children's teachers will guide them and their classmates through their days of this school year:

  • Be kind, prepared, and ready to work hard every day.
  • Respect each child as an individual.
  • Never punish a group of children for the actions of one or a few.
  • Never make a public example of a child's inappropriate behavior by shaming them.
  • Never raise voices or yell when quiet redirection may be used first.
  • Teach with a variety of learning styles to meet the learning preferences of all students.
  • Never punish students multiple times for the same infraction.
  • Always remember that we all make mistakes and that mistakes are opportunities for learning and growth.
  • Remember that teachers influence the emotional, physical, and social development of children as much as their intellectual development. The whole child must be addressed with dignity.
  • Remember that engaging lessons will curb behavior problems as much as behavior management systems.
  • Increase student freedom as responsibility is accepted and maintained.
  • Allow free reading choice and opportunities for silent reading during the school day.
  • Create assignments and assessments that are meaningful and matched to content objectives.
  • Encourage questioning, problem solving, and higher order thinking as appropriate to age levels.
  • Promote a joy of learning always.
There you have it: the past month.

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1 comment:

Jen said...

Hooray! It's good to "hear" your voice here again, and to see what adventures you and your many students have been up to. The start of the school year has been a big adjustment for us, too, and things are just starting to become familiar again!