Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This I know. . . . .

The jump from an in-home therapist for children with Autism back to a classroom teacher has been an interesting one. I’ve begun to master the delicate dance of doing what the Admin team wants me to do and what is really feasible in one day. Sometimes it’s the same and sometimes it’s drastically different. I’ve learned what teachers on the verge of burn out look like—there are definitely a few where I work. I know that I don’t want to be there and I vow that I will no longer remain in the classroom if I begin to look how those teachers do.

There are a few things that are not working in my room at this point. Calendar time and pretty much most large group activities are challenging for this group. I'm going to be making some major changes. The first is the complete elimination of calender time. It never did quite make sense to me and after a presentation at The NAEYC Conference, I decided that I was going to make the big leap. After all, it really does not make sense to my students and it just seems like a poor excuse for disguising something pretty meaningless to three-year-olds as learning. Instead, I’m going to change my morning circle time to the morning meeting approach, which is a part of the responsive classroom. I got rid of the calendar completely on the 19th and I’ll start the morning meeting aspect on Monday the 26th officially, although I’ll do a trial run tomorrow to see how it goes.

I continue to favor PROCESS art versus the use of projects that all need to look like something. I continue to favor learning being relevant and MEANINGFUL for the children. Not just some random topic my curriculum or administrators say I need to work on this week. Something like dinosaurs. Yes, kids like dinosaurs. But, when are they really going to SEE one? When will they TOUCH one (and I do NOT mean a photocopied picture here, either?!)? If they can't experience in a way that is relevant then I'm not going to bother teaching it. If I can't bring it them or them to it, the topic isn't happening in my room (thank you, Lisa Murphy--you have me an ah-ha!).

The big "thing" I'm learning? Well, I'm learning to have a more specific sense of self as a teacher. I'm starting to want to mentor my staff, not just supervise them (I supervise one TA and a cook). I'm working hard to learn from every day and reflect on my practices in the classroom. Bev Bos (I think) once said something to the extent of, "if this were one of your student's last days on earth, how would he or she remember his or her time with you?" I want make sure that the children who come to my room find joy in school and learning. I want to help parents understand this too.

Every day is an adventure and I continue to learn and grow with every adventure!

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