Friday, July 20, 2018

Be A Rebel

I wasn't much of a risk-taker growing up. I was a rule-follower. My father once said to me that I had a bigger fear of failure than anyone he had ever met. That stuck with me over the years. I am sure I  passed up a lot of opportunities and dreams because I was afraid to fail.

As a teacher though for some reason it's different. My mentee last year followed me on Twitter and asked me one day why I didn't follow the themes in our district curriculum. Short answer is I like trying new things and doing new themes. This past year, for the first time ever, we did a whole week on read-alouds about unicorns-my unicorn-loving students have never been more engaged and they fought over the books in the library. They were so excited to re-read them. I love my district, I think they put together great curriculum resources for us but they do one theme for 3 weeks. I can teach 3 different themes in that time frame and I feel like we cover more vocabulary and share more great stories. I can do author studies or character studies and make deeper connections with the skills we are learning.

You know your kids. You have to decide what is best for your kids. Our students attend art class in ancillary every 6 weeks. I don't think that's enough. So I incorporate art into my class. I disguise it as writing about what we paint or a read-aloud about Frida Kahlo-but I make sure to fit it in. My students have time each week or work on projects and work in Makerspaces. Why? It's beneficial to the development of creativity. This is what my district has listed in its curriculum for a project suggestion:

It says "write the words President and Patriot on index cards and share accomplishments of both....have students write about if they were a president or a patriot what would they do.

This is NOT project-based learning. Where is the inquiry? Where is the PROJECT? This is a writing assignment.

I have definite beliefs when it comes to effective teaching. I don't believe in reading logs. . I don't believe in using worksheets to make kids "accountable" for their workstation work. I don't believe in packets (under any circumstances). I believe in interactive word walls with actual vocabulary words-not sight words.  I believe in sparking curiosity and creativity. I believe in teaching my students how to make an argument (especially if they use those skills to argue a point with me). I believe we can teach our kids to have empathy. I believe in modeling how to be a risk-taker for them. I believe students should be allowed to ask more questions than they are required to answer.

Most of our day is spent with just us and our kids. Take a risk. Do what is best for them, even if it's going against what others in your building do. As long as you can justify the content with your curriculum you should be allowed to give your students what they need. The world of education needs more revolutionaries. Don't just do it that way because it's the way it's always been done-try something new.

*steps off soapbox now. :) 

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