Welcome back as we reflect on Chapter 2 of Debbie Miller’s book Teaching with Intention. Thank you to Mr. Greg for organizing this book study as well as Flying into First Grade, The Primary Gal, and Mrs. Dailey’s Classroom for hosting this week’s chapters.
Chapter 2 took me some time to process. It was all about reflection for me. Have you ever thought about your teacher belief statement? Have you written it down? I challenge you to this. Once you’ve written it down, post it in your classroom. Here is my top ten and thoughts on this topic…
I feel like it is our job as educators to find and reach out to any resources that we have so that we can provide our students with EXPERIENCES. Never assume that they will get these from home. It always surprises me what some of the basic experiences are considered BIG DEALS and “THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE” moments! Provide these for your students.
Do you set the bar high in your classroom? Do your students know this about you? Charles Kettering is spot on when he says, “High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectations.” If we expect a lot out of our students, the return will likely be the same. Kids usually step up to the challenge and it may surprise us what they can achieve. We need to pull this out of them.
Think about it. How do you work best? Sitting up straight, feet flat on the floor, clean desk space, and not being allowed to communicate? Doubt it. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is always a time and place for a quiet working environment but I also strongly believe that learning should be collaborative and slightly noisy at times. I also feel that students should be able to choose the way that they feel comfortable learning. This is why I allow for plenty of options as to where my students can learn.
Do you notice what I notice? A lot of students prefer to work on the floor! This is exactly why I provide plenty of learning mats, rugs, and clipboards!
Okay, I know I’m not alone when I say that usually an entire school district of teachers does not all agree on the type of reading or math curriculum that is best to teach students. Right? Don’t let this interfere with your relationships with each other as educators! This will sink your ship immediately! You are never going to all agree on the same teaching philosophy. That’s the beauty in it all. THERE ISN’T ONE RIGHT WAY TO TEACH OUR STUDENTS! I feel blessed to teach in a school district where our administration trusts that we are professional educators that can find what we feel is the best resource to teach a skill. We are often told to let the standards drive your instruction. If the pre-packaged curriculum doesn’t cover a skill that you feel is the best way, FIND THE BETTER WAY.
I love what Debbie says on page 20 regarding district mandates that you don’t feel is best for students, “Take the high road. Don’t let them defeat you. Do what you have to do; in the end no one can mandate how you feel about children, the ways you interact with them throughout the day, and the things you say and do that reflect who you are and what you believe about teaching and learning.” I just watched my friend Kayla present at a technology conference yesterday and she had the perfect words in regards to this topic…”If it’s right for kids, it’s right.”
I think that sometimes we, as educators, get caught up in objectives, standards, differentiation, assessments, evaluations, and the list goes on! Try to take the time to step back and just ENJOY each other and HAVE FUN!
All-school dance party anyone? Build these moments into your year!
I feel as if this is a sweet spot for me. I LOVE my classroom. I LOVE
the way it feels when you walk in the door. I strive to make it a place
that is not only appealing to the eye, but ORGANIZED. Yes, I do this because it is the way that I work best but I also feel that students benefit from this as well. An organized space provides your students with a very clear place for their things and there is no chaotic scrambling for every day necessities. Routines are also essential. The beginning of the year is spent going over these until they become habit. So important.
I work at a school that has incorporated the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports System, also known as PBIS. We focus on the positive to help with behavior. As a school we work hard to earn hornets for the bulletin board in the main hallway. (The hornet is our school mascot.) These can be earned for anything from outstanding manners in the lunch line to reaching out to another student to help them with a problem to offering to clean up litter that is in the hallway. When our bulletin board is filled, we do an all-school celebration. This particular celebration involved our principal, buckets of ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and sprinkles.
Yep, you guessed it, our principal was made into an ice cream sundae! Do you think the kids enjoyed this? The teachers even joined the fun!
What a good sport!
I love to do this in and out of my classroom! When students know that we value their work so much that we want them to share it with others, it steps up the quality! Not to mention, an amazing opportunity for formative and summative assessment through the use of observational notes! The sharing doesn’t need to be limited to their classmates. Some of our favorite sharing opportunities have been going to first grade classes to read our Story of Thanksgiving books. We also had fun presenting our Pioneer Reader’s Theater to fourth graders. Reading buddies has also been an excellent weekly routine for our class to get together with an older class to read, practice fluency, and answer comprehension questions. We also invite our parents, other teachers, and administration into the classroom for different sharing opportunities throughout the year.
It’s all about relationships! The picture below is of a family that I had the opportunity to teach. I taught all three of these siblings as kindergarteners. As you can imagine, the relationship that was built with the family over those years was extremely special to me. Since teaching these kids, I moved back to my hometown but occasionally visit the town that I used to teach in. You know those relationships are solid when years later you can go back and still make those connections!
One of my students gave me the best compliment that I think I have ever received from another student. It was on a Friday and the class was packing up to go home for the weekend. This little girl came up to me and handed me a picture with the most endearing look on her face. This shy little girl then proceeded to whisper into my ear and said, “Mrs. Olson, I love you. Do you know why I like school so much…because I can tell you love what you do and you make learning so fun for us.” #inserttears
I will leave you with two of my favorite quotes that I think encapsulates how I feel about my job…