Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio. As part of our reading, thinking, and college credit I've been asked to do eight reflections with blogging being an option. I thought I could share my journey and thinking here. I also needed a plan for those eight reflections and I got very lucky when I opened the book, there are eight chapters!
Debbie opens here book with this question for the reader. "If I were to ask you to close your eyes and envision the perfect classroom scene, what would you see? What would you hear and smell and feel? Think big! If everything were going just he way you'd like it to, what would be happening? What would your kids be doing? How about you?"
Wow, that is a lot to think about. I immediately thought about physical space and have to admit, I love my physical space. Debbie talks about room organization and I've got that down and know it works for the children. She also mentions the walls of the classroom talk. They show student learning through work and anchor charts. I love blank walls and bulletin boards until our important work goes up to be displayed. Recently, our fire marshall has made displaying student work a bit challenging so I keep thinking through how to do this and be a little creative.
Debbie shares an example of a third grade classroom and through her observations show "evidence of rigorous, joyful learning." She also shows how the students are very much in charge and working independently. She does end the chapter wondering and thinking about how this teacher and classroom got things working so well. She comments, it wasn't magical and it wasn't all the good kids placed in one room. I think she's going to show us more and think about making a classroom "rigorous and joyful."
When I think about my picture perfect, beyond physical space I'm a little unsettled. I'm being much more intentional year two, with my return to kindergarten, to help the students gain independence and knowing what real work looks like while I confer and work with small groups. I am also unsettled with the rigor and joyful learning part. It's easy to put blame on my every other day attendance schedule but that is out of my control. I think part of the blame is still learning the state standards. I think part of the blame is my need and belief to integrate learning, allowing for connections. I don't do well teaching things in isolation. I want that picture perfect scene to include student observations, inquiry, talk, discovery, sketching, choice, and children's decisions driving learning and instruction. I hope my journey with Teaching with Intention guides and reduces some unsettling in my head. Stay tuned.