Friday, June 21, 2013

The End of the Year: Celebrate and Assess

The end of the year is a time to celebrate and assess.

We celebrate a wonderful year of friendship, learning, and growth.

We assess what worked, and what we want to work on with greater strength and effort next year.

This year was a great year for read aloud, synthesis, embedding standards into worthy project base learning, tech integration, and math.  Students' embraced the 4 C's: collaboration, communication, critical thinking skills, and creativity as they learned about culture, animal adaptation, endangered species and standard subject area content in reading, writing, and math. Students also used multiple online tools to develop skill in reading, writing, and math.  Overall it was a great year.

As I grow the program next year, I will spend more time looking deeply at classroom patterns--the patterns that provide the necessary practice and learning in all areas of the curriculum.  The better the patterns, the greater the independence, and the greater the independence, the more time there will be for individual and small group coaching on specific skills, concepts, and knowledge.

Hence, I'll once again take Ruth Charney's words from Teaching Children to Care to heart as I establish solid systems and routines during the first six weeks of school.  We will spend time learning and practicing the routines, routines that will support the class well as we develop numeracy and literacy across discipline using multiple, student-centered learning paths.  We'll carve out time each day to read, write, and study math in meaningful, child-friendly ways.

I'll continue to look for and promote new learning paths using technology, teams, and project work rather than multiple workbooks and skill sheets as the new paths of learning offer greater depth of relative and responsive learning.  Though there will still be times when a worksheet is used as no one way of learning and teaching is the best way.  Instead it is how we weave the pieces together to best meet each child's needs--that's both the challenge and joy of the job.

Celebrate and assess, that's the end of the year mantra as we say good bye to the students we cared for all year long, and hello to next year's students.  It is also the mantra of parents as they celebrate their children's milestones and look to the future.

The end of the teaching year is a bittersweet time, a time where we can't forget that as teachers and parents we're on the same learning path as our children--a path of learning and growing too as we nurture youth toward happy, positive, successful lives.