Remember that book? Well, today I got a chance to visit another Elementary school- so out of my comfort zone as a teacher and I realized that more secondary teachers should spend time in the classrooms of these amazing teachers. I know that I learned a lot about teaching today in the kindergarten class of a master teacher that I look forward to applying in a senior class in the near future!
So what is it about Kindergarten? It’s just the general feeling in the classroom- a positive vibe that made me feel good by just walking into the classroom. I loved seeing those little people so eager to learn and I could not believe what I saw in terms of learning! They were looking at Math and graphing, in particular. The teacher had a bar graph on the SMART board and as the lesson went on, the students were able to complete a survey to chart a bar graph independently. Although this in itself was quite impressive, what really amazed me was when the teacher asked the students a question and had them turn to their partners and share their thinking– It went something like this: ”Would their graph look the same as the example they did together if they asked different friends about their favourite foods?” They did a Think/Pair/Share so effortlessly and with so much commitment to discussing their thinking. It was so cute to see their expressions and gestures as they were trying to explain their thinking and really listen to their partners. Amazing. My goodness- if they can do it with Kindergarten, surely we should be asking students to reflect on their thinking (meta-cognition is part of our curriculum, after all) in the senior classes. I had a chance to also see some of the work the students have been doing and clearly this was not a one-off! There were venn diagrams, mind-maps (Kindergarten!), concept attainment and fishbones. Seriously- if they can do it at this level, we should all be able to do it at the older grades and just think about what refined users the kids will be if they do it in all their classrooms to support their learning. Selfishly, I really hope my own children have such amazing teachers with these types of instructional strategies that I witnessed today- it really does make me feel good about what is going on in Education!
I still don’t think that those early years are for me- I really do like the more ‘mature’ students, but it made me realize how much I am missing by not getting into those elementary classrooms and seeing what kids are doing and learning in the early years. I think we senior teachers are often quick to blame the elementary teachers for gaps in learning and a lot more has to be done to bridge the levels. I think it would be really helpful to experience what has been going on in the grade six class before they get to middle school- and equally with grade 8 to grade 9. I know I have been surprised during my classroom observations by the quality and level of some of the work I am seeing at grade 6. With greater teacher collaboration, the students would no doubt benefit even more in their learning. That’s what it is all about, right?
Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.
These are the things I learned…
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life.
Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup – they all die. So do we.
And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.
Ecology and politics and sane living.
Think of what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world had cookies and milk about 3 o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and cleaned up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
Posted: March 28th, 2011 in Classroom observation | No Comments »