For the past couple of hours, I’ve been watching the snow pile up outside my window. Earlier in the month, I was able to put a positive spin on the snow in this never-ending winter. Today, it’s more difficult. I’m tired of it. I try to remember that the promise of spring is just around the corner. Surely it must be….right?
Rather than further lamenting on the plight of the Vitamin-D deprived, I think I’ll focus on something good- the gift of change.
I’d been feeling like my teaching had hit a patch of “blah.” I wasn’t happy with the way I was teaching, and felt like I had morphed into the kind of teacher I didn’t want to be– a basal-driven skill n’ drill Sally. My teaching felt disjointed and uncomfortable. I dove back into the training I’d had over the years- most of it in bits and pieces- and came out realizing that what was missing was DEPTH. It was when I went back to my learning as teacher of kids with high abilities that I reconnected with my “friends” Wiggins and McTighe and their work in Understanding by Design.
I decided the overarching concept of “Change” would be what guided our learning for at least the next nine weeks. After Christmas, we started. We explored the changes in the life cycles of plants and animals, how we as readers change over time. I personally have changed the way I’m teaching reading (with the help of my literacy coach) and writing, and am watching this change- this WONDER- come out in all of my learners, from the strugglers to the shiny stars.
More than anything, change has refreshed me. It’s taken me back to something that I really believe in as a teacher. Kids should know things well, not necessarily know a lot of things. For those of you who may be reading this and thinking in shock and horror, “WHAT ABOUT THE STANDARDS?!?!” I am covering them. But in a way that’s meaningful to my students.
If you need proof, stop in my classroom sometime. Ask the kids to tell you about the animals we’re studying, or how their plants are growing. Have them show you with their magnifying glasses and plant journals how their plants have grown, changed, and sometimes even died. Look at our reasearch on animals and the beginnings of our All About books. Listen to the conversation as we read about animals, the connections and curiosities are awe-inspiring. And yes, often very, very silly.
It’s a happy classroom, where we learn, observe, we read, we write, we do math, and embrace our gift of change.