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Friday, February 27, 2015

Late Winter Musings: Teaching Days Ahead

It was a quick week with lots of successful learning. It was also a week with many unexpected events and the need for collegial support and expertise.

I think winter fatigue is setting in--the excessive snow in the Boston area has created problems with commuting, structures, budgets, and daily routines. That fatigue trickles down to little children. I also think that the glimpse of end-of-year transitions is starting to take effect. I noticed this as fourth graders were giving me extra attention in the hall thinking I might be their fifth grade teacher, and as some fifth graders demonstrated a bit of anxiety as we discussed end-of-year events. We also had our first of 14 standardized tests. These tests are limiting with respect to questioning, ability to move around, access to reference materials, and collaboration so the tests too create a bit of anxiety and uncomfortable structure.

What does this mean for the teaching/learning days to come?

First, it means that it's time to build in more time for sensitive care and attention including added class meetings, small group study, and individual support. Students need that extra attention right now.

It also means that home study and in-class work needs to have a more diverse menu extending from enriched, detail study to simpler, more accessible study. This will provide students with the reach they need and want as well as quieter days to complement a busy schedule, home, and/or need for a quieter, easier days of work.

Then it means that we have to complement testing days with more hands-on exploration and investigation. We'll do that starting with our marble maze/simple machines project.

Finally, we need to make the time to get outdoors and play. The fresh air and physical activity is good for teachers and students alike.

Next week is family-student-teacher(s) conference week. I'm sure that share will bring other new ideas and foci to the learning/teaching days and weeks ahead as well.