My word for 2016 is PURPOSE. I've been trying to do and write and think in line with what I say I believe about children and learning. A key part of my personal philosophy is exploration, discovery, and self-directed play.
I've written about literacy play and math play that has occurred in my church kindergarten classroom. I've been pondering how practical this type of thinking and playing is in a general classroom.
Kids are naturally interested in words and letters and reading. Every child, at some level, wants to know more about these things. Some kids are naturally interested in words and will investigate them on their own.
Other kids are interested in other things. Words and books and reading become a conduit to knowing about those things.
Some kids love to use their hands and will explore letters in a more physical way.
Others want to interact with friends or adults. They will explore language as they talk and will explore writing and reading as more communal activity.
Kids want to express their ideas in tangible ways. They look for authentic writing and reading experiences - writing a note, telling a story, creating a map - through words or pictures or both.
They connect to words and letters that are meaningful to them - names, signs, logos. Using familiar groups of letters and symbols helps kids create meaning from text.
I look back when I taught first and second grades. I think then I let what "needed to be taught" overwhelm everything else. I discounted by own experiences and ideas. I wanted to do thing "right." But, purpose and philosophy still leaked in. We would play games with words and numbers. We would express ideas in words and pictures. We would investigate and follow ideas that the kids raised.
I would like to be in a daily school classroom again soon. I want to look for ways I could encourage exploration and self-directed activity in words and letters and numbers and symbols. To teach with purpose in mind, I want to be driven by what the children want to discover. They wonder and question. They are curious and adventurous. I want to be a partner rather than a leader in the classroom.
I hope I can teach on purpose.