Saturday, March 8, 2014
Follow Us! and Mind Shifts
I am so excited! To say I have grown as a teacher this year would be an understatement. I have had so many shifts in my thinking that it makes me dizzy to think about. I cannot even tell you how big my smile is when I think about how far I've come in this year alone.
I have been in grad school all year and that has had a lot to do with this change of thinking. But, it's not just the Master's Program I'm in. My TIS has had a lot to do with it as well as my Media Specialist and my awesome third grade team! I also happen to believe that the kiddos I have been blessed to spend the year with have helped me so much. They have rolled with whatever changes I've made and, honestly, have been honest in the fact that they like the changes. They're not afraid to give me some constructive criticism every now and then and that has been really helpful!
Allow me to list my noted changes/shifts:
1. Students don't have to all be doing the same thing. Now, I know that we all know this, but I'm not talking about centers and rotations. I'm talking about lessons and small groups being catered to their needs- whether it's me and five kids or one-on-one. It is amazing the growth I have seen with this!
2. Technology is my friend. I'll admit it- I've fought it for years. Not exactly fought it. I've used it when I wanted but I saw it as "another thing" instead of "an other" thing I could use. Technology is what has allowed me to make my classroom all about individualized instruction. (Thank you, Educreations!!)
3. Collaboration is the key to success. I'm serious. I've always tried to work with my team, but never really branched out past that. I, like many teachers I know, had the thought that asking for help meant I couldn't do it all and made me look like less of a teacher. I'm here to tell ya, folks, it isn't true. My students have truly benefited this year from some amazing collaboration between myself, our awesome TIS, and our amazing Media Specialist. They've gotten to do research project after research project. They've gotten to use app after app. They've had many opportunities to see other teachers as leaders and experts. They have LOVED it! I'm also excited to say that this ties in with my shift #1- None of my kids have done research all at the same time. That's right. You heard me. I have not done a whole class research project. Many teachers can handle that and more power to you if you can. I can't. It makes me crazy. But thanks to the collaboration I have been able to allow my kids to do more than one research project this year and have more say in what they're researching and how they're presenting it.
4. I can do this. I cannot count the times I have though I'm in over my head and I don't see a light at the end of this teacher tunnel. But, with how well this year has gone (even though it's been chaotic) I am now excited every day to go work. I cannot tell you how great it feels! Of course, like all people, I am human and I have days when little things get to me and I am "grouchy" (as my kids call me) but I still see their smiles as they learn new things in new ways and I am overjoyed!
5. I have to teach the class I have. Sounds weird. But, I don't have to teach my class myself. They can learn from other teachers, too. It's not all on me. That weight lifted off of my shoulders is so awesome! I love and trust my team and I know that if it's good enough for their kids then it's good enough for my kids, too. They work hard just like I do and putting our strengths together has truly helped me kids. We take turns doing lessons on Educreations and split subjects, etc. My kids love when another teacher teaches math because they say she teaches slower than I do and explains things better. For about half a second I thought about being offended by this, but the fact of the matter is that they're right. They love my word study lessons because they think they are fun. They enjoy small groups in my room but also benefit from going to other team members and working on skills with them as well. So, they're learning from more than just me and are better off for it.
This year is nowhere near over. I have many areas in which I need to continue to work hard and grow. I'm excited to see how much my kids grow and how well we do this year!