Sunday, January 9, 2011

Teaching with Intention - Reflection #3

First, I would like to welcome Primary Perspectives to the blogging world and sharing her reflections for this course we are taking together.  Welcome.

Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio. My third reflection comes in response to reading Chapter 3, Environment, Environment, Environment.  The chapter begins with Debbie describing her initial meeting with a first year teacher who got hired two days before school started.  It's now November and this teacher just wishes she could start over.  Debbie guides her in starting over with her environment and along the way her students are involved.  Debbie begins by clearing the room and sorting things into three piles;  things to keep, things someone else might want, things to throw away.  I did just this when I moved to kindergarten two years ago.  The previous teacher was leaving the classroom and before I moved anything in I took care of what was left behind.  I found I needed my own organization within my new space to think clearly.  I think it's hard for teachers to throw away or put up for grabs but I think it's necessary to clear our minds.  The chapter continues to follow Debbie's work with the first year teacher by asking questions about the physical space.  Asking questions about the different kinds of areas needed in the classroom and room arrangement.  I found these three sentences to be important in thinking about the physical arrangement and furniture.

"During this process, we had to get into what we called the "acceptance mode." 
In the end we had to work with what we had.
Good teaching, more than anything else, rests squarely with us." 

Debbie is telling us, we have to use what we have, what we find in our rooms, within our buildings and not spend energy creating giant wish list for new furniture and beautiful spaces.  She gives tips on making subtle and financially reasonable changes.  I love Debbie's thinking about wall space and embraced this years ago.  She encourages teachers to leave them blank and don't buy things commercially made.  "Instead, everything on those walls was purposeful and authentic....That's because much of the teaching, learning, and thinking had been made visible, public, and permanent.  We saw not only the evidence of learning, but also the processes students and their teacher used to get there."  I just love she mentions showing the evidence of learning AND the process.  Learning is a journey.  You can't go from point A to published point B without work in between.  I think it's important to celebrate the journey.  I think it's important to show the journey to appreciate the evidence.  Debbie also devotes a section on organizing books.  In organizing books and materials the last step in our environments to work need to have a system.  Any system can work as long as it is modeled and the children know how to use it with success.  I've really been reminded of this my last two years of teaching kindergarten.  It takes a great deal of time to model, I've spent  more time on modeling this year and it's paid off for more student success and independence.  While the environment has to work for us as teachers it needs to be created for and sometimes by the students.
Our classroom meeting area back in August.
I will be including with this assignment two articles I wrote for Choice Literacy.  Those are Creating a Kindergarten Library and Redesigning a Classroom:  Putting Students First and Technology in it's Place.

1 comment:

  1. Mandy~
    Thank you so much for the shout out! I really appreciate your mention and your time in reading my blog.
    I am so glad to hear you talk about your appreciation of the process. Process is so important in the learning our kids do. Learning is messy, valuing the process helps us see the learning along the way.