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Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Power of Teacher Reflection on Student Success

The end of the year is near, and we often begin the process of looking back on the progress our kids have made. They have changed, grown, and evolved. They know more now than they did in August. They will leave us to enter summer with another year of learning behind them, and return in the fall ready to embrace a new year with different challenges.

As educators, have we learned along with our students? Have we grown professionally and personally since August? How are we different now than we were then? If we are not learning and evolving along with our students, it is impossible to make the largest impact we can make.

Reflective practice is necessary in order for educators to be honest with themselves as a learner. After all, the lead learner of the classroom should be learning the most. Children will teach us if we listen to them. They will push us out of our comfort zones and into a world of continuous growth.

The following is a blog posting from a teacher at Central Elementary who took hold of what her students where telling her. They guided her into new territory...far out of her comfort zone. The result was a happy classroom full of kids who have their needs met, thus making the learning environment more productive. She reflects in this post about how the process helped her realize what questions to ask herself regarding specific student behavior, and how she adpated her learning space in order to strengthen the learning community.

The blog posting below was written by Liz Savage, a first grade teacher at Central Elementary.

It Doesn't Mean Jumping Through Hoops!

Sometimes teaching feels a little like we're jumping through hoops.  We're moving and going, staying up late planning, and trying with all our might to make our lessons interesting.  We've been taught to do things in a certain way, at a certain time, with certain expectations.  However, what if you found out you were doing it backwards for some learners.  What if you discovered that the very students you felt weren't successful or cooperative were actually frustrated learners because of the way the information was presented to them.  Mind blowing right? It was for me!

EVERYTHING about the way you teach a child determines their successes as well as their failures.  There are so many things we need to consider when we think of our students.  As you know I recently converted my classroom into an alternative learning environment.  My students have choices in their seating, which is strangely more empowering for them than you might think it would be.  The funny thing is I learned so much about my students just by where they chose to work.  I found that I had students that focused more when they were on the floor, students that would pick a Rubbermaid container to snuggle up and read every time they had a chance, as well as those that preferred to stand.  It opened up a line of communication that needed no words and yet shared so much information!

I adopted the attitude of 'WHY NOT?'.  Why not sit in a Rubbermaid container to do your work?  Why not lay on the floor to write your story?  Why not let a child take a break if you see their frustrated with the work?  We have to remember some key things:

  • If you are having to ask a child to sit down multiple times throughout the day, they probably would rather stand to do their work and ... why not let them?
  • If you have a child that frequently melts down in the middle of writing or math it probably means the amount of work is overwhelming and they need it broken into smaller chunks and... why not give it to them that way?
  • If you have  a child who repeatedly has problems with disrupting class by talking out or even defiant behavior they are probably attention seekers so why not give them some positive attention by assigning them a responsibility... why not?
  • If you notice your student learns better with visual aids or movements...why not provide one every time?
Children are just like adults in the sense that they want to be heard, they want to be comfortable, they want to be respected, and most importantly they want to be successful.  If we take the time to really listen and pay attention to what they are telling us, we would find that they are willing and able to learn.  All it takes is us letting a child know we care and providing them with the tools they need to learn.  Remember it doesn't mean your jumping through hoops, it simply means you're empowering the students in your classroom to be successful!

Our new look now that ALL of the desks have been removed.

The room feels so peaceful and comfortable!  I just love it!
Taken from the blog Fearless and Fabulous in First Grade
Teacher Reflection is necessary in order for us to grow in our profession and to ensure we are doing everything in our power to support our kids. Blogging is a great way to reflect, and provides encouragement for others who may be facing the same issues. We are in this together, which means we must learn from each other. Reflect, refocus, and return to kids even stronger and more prepared...that is what our kids deserve.