Sunday, March 10, 2013

Two Minds

This year in first grade has been like a Dickens novel - it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.... Well, maybe not the worst of times. But I have definitely struggled. It has been hard. I've been tired. But I know I'm in the right place. I hope I've made a difference in the lives of these boys and girls. I know they've made a difference in mine.

Yes, my lids have made it to 1st grade!

In all my previous experiences with teaching young children, I've been very hands on and exploratory. I think that's the way that kids learn naturally and I want to nurture that. But now, in a public school teaching academic stuff, I find myself doing other kinds of things. Telling rather than exploring. Using those sheets in the curriculum to add to the experiences with manipulatives. What I'm finding is that I definitely have two minds about things. And I think that's good.

My university class this semester has helped me begin to merge some of these competing (but not necessarily conflicting) ideas. (And, yes, I'm a student as well as a teacher at this point in my life - a challenge for my middle-aged mind!) Sometimes direct instruction is the "right way" - telling students what they need to know directly. Example: We've been working on time. It's hard to do much discovery to understand "o'clock" and "thirty" for hour and half hour.

Sometimes exploration and student-discover is the "right way." Example: exploring with different shapes and how they relate to one another. I watched a student figure out that 6 small triangles make up a hexagon - without any prompting from me.

Play and exploration and student discover can co-exist with pencil practice and minute math. I'm forging ahead in my adventure of truly becoming a first grade teacher. I see glimmers of brightness. I see times when I outright fail. Just like the kids I teach. As I said recently to one of my friends, "It's okay to make mistakes. We all make mistakes. That helps us learn what to do."

I'm merging my two minds to be the teacher I'm intended to be. I keep telling myself that next year will be so much better. But this year is okay, too. Even when it's not.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Scott! Keep up the good work, you are definitely in the right place :) I wish more people would be open minded and learn to see the best of both worlds, but often it takes walking a mile in the others shoes first.