Monday, March 27, 2017

A Big Mistake

What's the biggest mistake you've made in a classroom? Oh, I've made some great ones along the way. I think the first one that comes to mind happened when I was teaching first graders. I had put up a wonder wall and received lots of great questions and wonders. One day, when reading some of the wonders in our group, I read a great question about rainbows - and then I proceeded to answer it instead of leading the group in ways to discover the answer. I realized that mistake as I drove home. I'd missed a great opportunity to lead children in discovering their own answers to questions.

I've made spelling mistakes and factual mistakes in the classroom. I've tried things that just didn't work or that just didn't interest the children like I thought it would.

I think about how to take advantage of mistakes when I make them - showing the children that we all make mistakes and mistakes help us learn. I think about how plan to avoid general mistakes. I think about how to laugh when I make them and how to encourage when kids make them.

But when I think about a big mistake I could make in the classroom, I come back to the mistake of not trying new things. I get really comfortable in my classroom and in my way of doing things. I like when things feel comfortable. But if I always do things the same way without evaluating why I'm doing it - that's a mistake. If I only do something because it worked last year or the past however many years and don't filter what I'm doing against the characteristics of my current class - that's a mistake. If I don't listen and look at the kids I have when I'm planning and when I'm teaching - that's a mistake.

Of course, if I decide to jump on the latest trend in the classroom and don't weigh what I'm doing and why I'm doing it - that's a mistake. Just being novel isn't a good enough reason to bring things into my classroom. It must connect with my kids and our classroom community.

I love consistency - and so do young children. I love new things - and so do young children. But one of the biggest mistake I can make is to be oblivious. Not noticing my kids and their likes and interests. Not seeing their strengths and their areas of needed growth. Teaching as if what matters most is my needs and my comfort.

Why am I thinking about all of this? I'm wondering if I've fallen into a rut with my teaching. I do pay attention to what my church kindergarten kids like and want and need. But things seem very lax lately. I'm not really working much to prepare and plan. Maybe I've become very efficient at it...but it seems like there's something else that may be missing. It's more like I'm going through the motions more than really preparing to teach that group of kids. And if that's true, that's a really big mistake.

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