It’s early January. Everyone has made their resolutions and is ready for a better 2017 than 2016. Kids are back to school and the Twitterverse is full of excited teachers and students trying innovative ideas. Being at a year round school and on track 4 I’m still on break until the end of January. While I enjoy my time off, I feel a little jealous that I’m missing all the excitement and eagerness to begin a fresh new year.
My #oneword2017 is motivation. I started this blog a month ago and am very proud that I have kept the momentum thought the holidays. I plan to continue to motivate myself to reflect in this platform and in order to do that I need motivation. My motivation is always my students. I do whatever it takes to make school better for them and inspire learning. However this blog feels different, a little more selfish. Reflecting here helps me become better in my craft, better at what I do. Granted, I do it for them…. I still feel this is for me.
I’ve been working my way through the NC Teacher Evaluation Standards and today I’ll be exploring…..
Teachers facilitate learning for their students. – know the ways learning takes place and appropriate levels of intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development. Plan appropriate instruction. Use a variety of instructional methods. Integrate and use technology in instruction. Help students develop critical thinking and problem solving. Help students work in teams and develop leadership qualities. Communicate effectively. Use a variety of methods to assess what students have learned.
I know my students and I work hard to have relationships with each student. It’s important to me to take their individual interests into consideration when planning for their learning. I’m a big proponent for developmentally appropriate practices and doing right by kids. Knowing their developmental levels is important to consider while planning for learning. While considering developmental appropriateness, one must always think of the whole child. As an early childhood educator, I plan lessons around the whole child and take into consideration what 5-6 year olds need physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. I change the order from how the substandard is written because I think the intellectual part of a child is the obvious place to begin when planning instruction. You may have noticed that I have been using the term “planning for learning” in this post. This is a conscious decision- an important one. I plan for student learning not instruction. Planning for student learning takes the whole child into consideration and naturally differentiates for individual student needs and interests. Planning for instruction is for the teacher and what the teacher will do. Learning is about the student. And, let’s be honest, who is education for anyway? STUDENTS!! So, I plan for my students, what they need, and what they’re interested in. For example, as stated in my last post, we’re exploring geometry in math. Here’s how I plan for each of those areas:
physically – we get up and move around a lot in my class. To some, my room probably looks chaotic. When introducing 2D shapes, I had my students walk in the shape.
Socially – we talk a lot in my class. It’s quite noisy on a regular basis. Yes, it’s a struggle to keep kids on topic. But, I’ve learned that the more opportunities they have to talk, the more they do what they are supposed to. When introducing shapes, I show an example and tell the name. Then, they turn and talk about what they notice. This also gives me good information as a preassessment.
Emotionally – this can be tricky to include in regular lessons. Kindergarteners have a lot of feelings and emotions and they don’t always understand them. #allthefeels For me it’s important to acknowledge these feelings and help them label and communicate those feelings. During the above mentioned turn and talk, I noticed a friend sulking. This little friend was sad because they don’t know shapes. I sat beside her after introducing the next shape and pointed out things she can notice about the shape’s sides and vertices. She gained come confidence and was able to talk to a buddy about the next shape.
Intellectually- um… All of the above? Everything I do is rooted in my standards and what my students need to know to be successful. This one is big though. It’s important that I figure out what my students already know and differentiate from there. My friend from my story above, she needed some scaffolding so she knew what she needed to notice. Other friends new these things but needed new math terminology- vertices instead of corners, rhombus instead of diamond. Different kids need different things from me and I plan for each of them to learn.
Yikes! All of that and I only really talked about part of that standard. There’s so much involved in it. And I’ll get to e rest. You can see an example of my integration of technology in my last blog post: My knowledge of content knowledge.
Here’s a tweet my principal shared of a lesson I did for an observation. Students built a scene from a favorite book with Legos and asked and answered questions about their brick build.
How do you plan for learning?