Monday, October 11, 2010

Independence

I believe one of the most important things I can teach my students is independence. Whenever I am asked about my teaching philosophy, that word is always forefront. If you come into my room you might hear me tell a kiddo that I won't tie their shoes. They need to try it themselves or ask a friend. You might hear me tell a child that, "no, I won't open your snack. Ask a friend." I think it's incredibly important for these five year olds to understand that self-sufficiency is the bedrock of their success. If they can't do something, that's okay, but ask a friend. If a five year old is tying another five year old's shoes, they are both benefiting from that experience. The shoe-tying kid is strengthening their skills through practice and teaching through example. The shoe tie-ee is likely paying more attention because if their friend can do it, why can't they?

Sorting buttons...

I feel independence doesn't stop at basic life skills such as opening a Capri-Sun or tying a shoe. Most of my teaching consists of a focus lesson followed by independent learning centers. This structure carries over in literacy and math. I work really hard and setting routines and expectations so that a student knows what their job is, knows what to do at the job, and knows what to do when done. All without my assistance. This frees me up to work one-on-one with kids, to do our ever growing assessments, to work with a small group, or lately to chat with colleagues or reply to emails. It's the lately part that's making me feel just a tad guilty.

Um, hello TEACHER?! You're a teacher right? Shouldn't you be TEACHING? That's what the little teacher-nerd sitting on my shoulder is saying.

Color sort...

Of course I don't think I should go into these independent groups and shake it up with teacher-led instruction, but I do think I need to get a bit more involved. My fabulous co-teacher suggested I follow her lead and make check-lists for learning objectives I am looking for. Then while my wonderfully independent kiddos are working, I can circulate around the room making notes of who is demonstrating what. I love this idea and need to get cracking on these checklists. It will certainly make me feel more productive, it will force me to see if my centers are successfully supporting the learning objectives, and it will decrease the chance of my boss showing up in my room while my kids are at centers and I am emailing our IT guy about the latest gadget I want.
Number dominos...

2 comments:

Angela said...

"If you come into my room you might hear me tell a kiddo that I won't tie their shoes. They need to try it themselves or ask a friend. You might hear me tell a child that, "no, I won't open your snack. Ask a friend."

When I read that, I thought of my first year teaching (as a HeadStart teacher). I was in a very tough neighborhood and had the same classroom norms as you. A very, very scary looking mom walked into the room one day and got about 4 inches from my face and said, "My daughter says you won't open her milk carton, you told her to have a friend do it." I told her yes, that was correct, we use something called the 3 Before Me rule. She said, "So what, you too lazy to open her milk? You the teacher! What do they pay you to do in here?"

Sigh.

Mandy said...

I'm glad to read this. I had another teach try to make me feel bad the other day because I wouldn't tie a kid's shoe. Thank you.