Monday, January 11, 2016

Choosing Kids or the Grade?

When asked "What do you do?" teachers will often say, "I teach first or something like I teach 7th grade math".  Well, I disagree with this. As the times have changed so has our job description.  The amount of differentiation that goes into lesson planning leads me to say, "I teach kiddos."  If someone wants to know a specific grade I will usually say "K-2" or primary. I believe this is the true way we should respond to this question. Teaching has become (or maybe it always has been and I am just now discovering it) more of an open ended profession. What I mean is that I have students come into my classroom from ALL different walks of life and scenarios. From homeless, to hospital bound, to helicopter parents, to lawn mower parents. Kind of like the cast in Willy Wonka......
No matter what the background of the child, my job is to teach THAT CHILD. My job is to get to know them, create an unbreakable bond with them, and teach them the way they learn.  This means if a few kiddos come into my classroom only recognizing a few letters, while some are reading sight words, and others are reading chapter books, then I immediately switch my teaching from the first grade standards to teaching the K standards and the second grade standards simultaneously. These bonds are critical to their learning and extremely tough to accomplish if you have more than 18 kiddos in your classroom. It reminds me of the old timey one room school houses where the teacher would teach everyone no matter what the age or developmental capacity that they were at.  That person would teach the child where that individual child was lacking or what that individual child needed to be inspired to grow. Everyone keeps saying RTI this, RTI that, chart this, chart that.  What I say is that not all kids (or even adults for that matter) learn the same way and everyone should just except that.  Yes kids may need remediation, yes kids may need extra support,  yes kids may need to be challenged, but why in the world are we trying to cram stuff down their throats if developmentally they are not ready for it??? Because some man or woman in a suit (who has never taught a day in their lives) decides that a "first grader" should be able to pass some test? I don't think so.  My point in all of this ranting is that as a teacher we should be able to teach the child the way WE as professionals learned to do.  Make those bonds with the kiddos, play and learn at the same time.  Albert Einstein said it best......."Play is the highest form of research". So how can we accomplish teaching the child? Smaller class sizes with stronger bonds and relationships between teacher, students, and parents. However, I am not going to hold my breath while the politicians make decisions over something they know little about (unless they were in a classroom teaching for at least 5 years in a row). For me, I am just going to keep "trucking along" making sure to adjust the needs of each individual student when and where I can.

What do you choose? The Kid or the Grade?


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