How Do We Do It All?
How Does Planning Whole Group Instruction, Embedding Social Studies and Science into ELA, Teaching Guided Reading, Engaging in 1:1 Student Conferencing, and Progress Monitoring Work My Classroom?
This post is brief in length, however, dense with thought/wondering. In other teacher worlds, maybe it is possible to find time to plan for multiple reading/math groups, manage, collaborate, record, use, and then repeat daily for all that needs in a classroom.
However, in this teacher's world, it is impossible. So, I don't even try. At least for now. PLEASE, I am begging you to understand that this is not a challenge, nor insubordination against my school's expectations. I work hard, my students learn hard, and are growing exponentially for it!
Please allow me to explain:
Although I do ALL of the things that I am expected to do as a teacher (basically everything that I say in my title don't work), I have figured out how to make the students more responsible for them than myself. Yes, 6 and 7 year olds are teaching themselves and others.
I know you have read in the past about me using Google and HyperDocs to teach my kids, however, over the past month, I have noticed a significant change in the structure of my classroom because of these tools:
1. Students are taking responsibility for their own learning daily.
I no longer run Guided Reading/Strategy Groups and my students are still growing. The reason I don't run them anymore is because the STUDENTS run them. They have a wide open space to read, write, collaborate, and give feedback to each other every single day. Not just on Tuesdays and Thursdays or once a week like I used to do with a typical Guided Reading schedule that may or may not happen due to constant interruptions due to weather, meetings, absences, etc.
Life and learning don't work like that and I refuse to believe that I am the gatekeeper of reading/writing/math knowledge. And if kids as young as 6 can teach each other while I am conferencing/progress monitoring, then I know middle and high schoolers can do it too.
2. Students are doing homework or work during recess, because they WANT TO.
When I embed a HyperDoc into Seesaw, students have access to it FOREVER (or at least the whole school year). When they moan and groan because we are going to move onto a different topic of study, I simply reiterate to them that "You can learn whatever you want, whenever you want to. You don't need me or this classroom to learn. Do it at home!" At first, this confused them, however, I have even had students ask lately if they can stay in from recess to keep working. WHAT. IS. THIS. LIFE?
My students understand my role is a facilitator in our space. I am not just the "boss." I make mistakes, they make mistakes, and we learn from them and move on. We teach each other. We work together. Our room is no longer a classroom, it is a room of collaboration, noise, and real work.
3. I am done with "work" when I leave my classroom at 4:00. Don't judge me.
Do I have to do some things at home sometimes, of course I do. I'm a professional, for goodness sake. However, my days of spending weekends and evenings preparing EVERYTHING for my students are far behind me.
Life does not lend itself to having everything done for us in an adorable little package, so why should I teach my first graders that this is what learning and life is going to be for them? Why should I provide them with pre-made, cutely packaged, flawless pages filled with illustrated smiling white children to make myself feel like I am doing my job as a teacher? Those days are done.
My kids make their own graphic organizers, draw their own thoughts, create their own connections and stink at it. That's where I do the most work. When they totally mess something up, fail, and generally don't get it, this is where my work happens. It is not planned, not perfect, and certainly and arguably, not what I was taught to do in college. However, if it is wrong, then why do my students consistently grow?
This post is meant to do two things:
One, to let you all know that I am really struggling with the amount of expectations that are put on educators. I also want to let you know that I have figured out how to work it all out for the benefit of my students.
Two, to ask for your input. How do you manage your day? Do you plan everything out for your kids? What IS the structure of your day like? Are you handling it okay? Are you spending all hours of the day after school planning, printing, and entering data?