As of now, I'm teaching phonics, high frequency words, math (parallel), and language arts. After this next week, I'll be adding on Daily 5 guided reading/skills groups and possibly writers workshop.
The more time I spend in someone else's classroom, the clearer my vision of my own classroom becomes. There are so so many things I love about how things operate in my class, but of course, I have my own unique style and tastes, so my class wouldn't run exactly the same.
Some things I love:
- Classroom management: I think Class Dojo is a brilliant system, and the techniques Mrs. H. uses to quiet the class are so great.
- Daily 5: I can't imagine NOT using Daily 5. Though mine may not look exactly the same, it will probably be pretty close!
- Phonics with songs and poems: Yes. Yes yes. I can't even explain how valuable I think it is to have music in the classroom. Which brings me to..
Some things I'd tweak:
- Music, art, and hands-on engagement: though I see glimpses of these things each week, I just truly hope my future administration will allow me to include all of these on a daily basis. The curriculum books are so strict and scripted that, at this school, it's not really possible. But they're in 1st grade..!
- Fewer worksheets: Worksheets are a quick and easy way to have kids practice skills in any subject...but are they really effective? I estimate that our kids do 5 worksheets a day, with 1-3 for homework. That's..a lot. Wouldn't they learn grammar rules or spelling words or math concepts more quickly (and remember them more easily) with a song, an experiment, or through physical activity?
- Authenticity: Maybe I'm still in that college-aged, teacher-in-training, head-in-the-clouds mindset. Maybe there simply isn't the time for schools to make room for authentic teaching that introduces kids to cultural, ethical, and human rights concepts. But, there needs to be time. For MLKJ day, we did a read aloud about Dr. King. I couldn't help but think how important that subject matter was. We could've done stations or explorations to learn more and truly understand how important he was to the history of our country. No time.
I hope that, in the future, school boards and educational policy makers will understand how much truly important material is getting pushed out of the school day to "improve test scores." Teaching is about people. KIDS. Let's focus on making them into great ADULTS with rich understandings of our world. That's what school is there for...right?