By Marci Horne. 4th Grade Math. Published at Friday, November 20th, 2020 - 15:44:04 PM.
I used some strategies that had proven successful in the past. This included going back to basics... checking to see what each child DID know, and what the specific gaps were for each student. All of the boys knew the letters of the alphabet and had some beginning knowledge of consonant sounds. Each could read just a few words. We started there, at their instructional level, with games and activities that I created as I tried to teach words with the CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) short vowel sound pattern. I was amazed at how difficult it was for these 10 and 11 years old boys to put letters and sounds together in this simple CVC pattern.
Whatever the case may be, Im sad in a way that Ive checked that one off my list. Not because I didnt want to fix things with Elizabeth, but because I feel slightly older and like Im at the end of a magnificent book with only a few chapters left. I know that is not really true and that fifty is the new thirty, whatever that means. But maybe what it means is its time to make a new list, a more fun list. Maybe there are two life lists. The first part of your life and the first list you are cleaning up old issues and the second part of your life and second list are meant to have unencumbered fun. That thought makes me smile.
Heres what I observe. They effortlessly pass the "leadership" opportunities to each other and build on each others ideas in ways that we seem to forget as we grow up and become leaders or members of teams. They actually listen as they add new thoughts. Do they occasionally go off topic and on to personal tangents? Of course. But they get back on track and give helpful ideas to each other. Theres innocence, curiosity, simplicity, honesty and a pure desire to help each other. It is a powerful reminder of how complicated we tend to make things as we grow up, both in our personal lives and as leaders. Does everything really need to be as hard and complex as we make it?
Sometimes I really hate my ego. Ive studied spiritual teachings enough to know that what drives us to control is the ego: that over-analytic, judging and critical left brain which is always on guard, eager to squash our enthusiasm, and which doesnt give spontaneity and creativity much of a chance to blossom. Sometimes I really hate my left brain, too. Even though we need it for survival, it can sabotage our most earnest efforts to be open, spontaneous, flexible and honest. The ego is very wary of honesty. It sees it as a weakness, and would rather we respond in safer, pre-programmed sorts of ways. Honesty is risky business for the ego, because we might look foolish, stupid or weak, so the ego avoids situations that could create discomfort. The ego is what causes us to reduce, to shrink, ask for less, and to settle. It reasons: at least if I settle Im not out of my comfort zone. If the ego had its way it would tuck us into bed and keep us there forever, everyday nearly the same, nothing allowed in that would rock our boats. Sterile, yet safe. Though youve probably realized by now that playing it too safe is a recipe for failure.
I want my teachers to be able to retrace my steps and perhaps provide alternative schedules or make adjustments that I had not considered. All alternatives to the master schedule should be presented to the grade level committee using the same methodology and should be based on deliberate strategy. "I dont want to teach after lunch" is an example of a schedule request that is not well thought out. An example of a schedule request that is well thought out might be, "If teacher A and teacher B trade media center times on Tuesdays, the second grade could have additional common planning time."
Moving to first grade meant moving away from the very secluded kindergarten classrooms and playgrounds. We spent a few different afternoons walking around the classrooms and visiting the new playground. When we discovered which classroom my child was in, we went there two or three times to make it comfortable to find and remember. Our school offers kindergartners the opportunity to buy hot lunch the very last two weeks of the school year so that the kids are comfortable with the cafeteria and lunch lines before they enter first grade. I made sure my daughters bought lunch several times in those two weeks so they could experience the new routine.
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