I had a dream last night that I was going to bed and had forgotten to write my blog. I woke up in a mild state of panic and it took me a few minutes to remember that it had been Sunday and Monday hadn’t happened yet. It was a bit of a confusing way to start my day.
We are tackling something brand new in my reading class. I am integrating art (drama) with my reading. This is our BIG week. We’ve read our stories and built up a tremendous amount of background knowledge. On Friday my students will be performing short living history museum pieces for as many people as I can convince to show up. This is making both them and me, nervous. We have all week to practice and prepare, but none of us know what is going to happen on the day of the performance.
Trying new things is daunting. It is especially challenging to think about other teachers, students and administrators coming to watch us do something brand new. On the other hand, new things can also be really exciting. I guess you can’t really have any adventures without risk. I will keep you posted.
Meanwhile, you know what I did MORE of today? I listened to students when they were talking. I don’t feel like I do this enough. I was working on multiplication facts with some students. They were struggling their way through their 7s, 8s and 9s. As they struggled, instead of jumping in with a suggestion for a strategy, I listened to them. It was really interesting and super informative. I already knew that they didn’t have these facts mastered, that’s why they were meeting with me. What was interesting was to really listen to them as they tried to solve these problems. One boy had an approach to solving problems that was totally different than anything that I’ve done. It is a slower process, but actually worked. Later, I showed them how I solved the problems when I am stuck. It was more of two people talking about numbers, patterns and problem-solving. I was genuinely interested to see their approach to the problems, and I hope that helped them feel more comfortable.
It is faster to issue a quiz, or worksheet to assess how many facts my students know, but listening to the way they approach problems is far more informative. It gives me a bigger picture as to “why” they don’t know those facts. For example, if a student is struggling with understanding the concepts behind adding and subtracting, multiplication is going to be really challenging. For me to support my students’ learning, I need to understand what they understand on a deeper level — especially if I want their learning to be deep.
That might be too much under the hood of the car of teaching, but I found it really interesting. It is also the direct result of having two teachers in a classroom at the same time. I was only able to pull aside and work one-on-one with students because I wasn’t the only teacher in the room. This is something that they do on the reg in Norway. (SPOILER) They also have some pretty powerful math scores. Maybe they are on to something.
I sure hope that your Monday was a dream come true. I for one am relieved that last night’s dream was just a dream.
Keep moving forward,