"What does a typical day look like?", "What would your plan book typically look like for the week?"
These are questions that I have been asked multiple times over the years, more so now, than ever. I really struggle to come up with an answer. There is what I want to say and there is what I should say. Here in lies the struggle...the limbo.
Let me rewind a bit. When I began my position four years ago, there was a shift away from the boxed curriculum because the old stuff was not aligned with the new standards. YES! For me, this was exciting...I was blessed that my past administrators ditched the textbooks before it was cool. Seriously. They led by "meet students where they are, by whatever means necessary". At first, this was scary...where was my safety net if I didn't follow the book? Where do my lessons come from? How do I know what my students are learning? But I quickly learned that the best way to get students to learn, was to first know the students. I knew my students. Because of this, I was able to tailor their learning to best meet their needs.
This meant that I didn't keep a neat plan book. I had objectives, goals for the students and activities and strategies to get them there. But my lessons flowed with THEM. I used my understanding of where they were, their needs and where they needed to go, to guide the learning. This did not mean that I did not work, that I did not plan, that I came in unprepared. In fact, it meant the opposite. It meant that I needed to be armed with a very large arsenal of ideas, strategies, protocols and materials in which to draw upon at any given moment. I learned to enjoy not having net. I appreciated the autonomy to be able to reach my kids without the worry of being compliant, fidelitous or race to finish a textbook.
How did this work for me? That really doesn't matter...what matters is, how did this work for my students? Well, it worked out incredibly. My students left my room feeling like confident critical thinkers and creators. They left feeling like readers, writers, mathematicians and scientists. They left having deep understanding of how and why things worked. They left with their heads held high. I don't believe this would have happened had I followed the teacher's manual and cranked out worksheets. Like my friend Jon Corippo says "Has anyone ever congratulated you for finishing the textbook?" I sure hope not.
Fast forward to the present, we are at a time when new curriculum has been purchased. Teachers are now in limbo...how do they keep doing the awesome things they created when they didn't have to follow a curriculum AND also fit in this new box? You don't. You create experiences for the students that sit before you. You use the resources you have and you meet those in which you serve, right where they are...then you move them forward.
So my response to those questions about "typical" days and weeks is now this: I can not answer what a typical day looks like because there is no such thing. My students are different than your students and your students are different than her students hers are different than his. In fact, they are all different from each other. Thank goodness for this! Can you imagine if they were all the same? So, we need to shift our focus away from curriculum and move it to the students. What works for one student in my class, may not work for one in yours or it just might...so let's have those conversations and share. There is no "typical" student, there is no "typical" classroom there is no "typical" day. And I believe there is no "typical" teacher. To me, this is beautiful!
If the curriculum states that we do certain activities on each day and the goal is to test the students on Friday, we need to really think about our purpose. What happens if our students are not on "track"? What if they are struggling with concepts on Tuesday and Wednesday...does it make sense to just plow through to officially show them what they don't know on a test on Friday?
So my call to action is this...let us rethink our purpose in education. Is it to finish the book or is it to help our students to become learners? I understand that the way I am proposing, is a more difficult path for us as the teacher...we need to work harder to create, collaborate, collect ideas-but who are we in this for? We chose this profession to help students, let's not lose focus on that. It's about the kids...always about the kids.
Pernille Ripp reminded me of this quote from my friends Tony Sinanis and Joe Sanfelippo at Fall CUE.
"The Problem: We set schools up for adults, not for kids."
Let's flip the switch on this. It's for the kids!
Mother, Teacher, Presenter, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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