Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Righting the Teaching Ship in Wavy Waters

I've noticed that the Internet buzz amongst teachers seems a bit quiet these days, and I'm wondering if the reason is that many teachers are righting their classroom ships in the wavy waters of new evaluation systems, RETELL, new standards, and other matters that create the busy waters of school life.

This week I'm working hard to keep the ship directed towards student learning; sharing the journey's choices along the way with students. For example, the new standards find us working with a bit more precision and detail when it comes to our usual studies. We're thinking deeply about reading strategy, writing craft, and the standards of mathematical thinking.  This precision is fostering even greater emphasis on "learning to learn," habits of mind, and collaboration as we work through the sometimes tedious vocabulary, close reading, and math detail. That's one part of the complex steering mechanism alive in the classroom, yet we know that too much detail can serve to diminish creativity and excitement, hence we've also got the STEAMship and PBL gears oiled and active. The daily conversation about learning, focus, priorities, tenacity, and curiosity keep us energized and ready to learn.

Choreographing this ride well is the key to running a good classroom. Keep the focus, include the right mix of precision, creativity, collaboration, and effort, and don't lose sight of your destination: teaching children well. Happy Travels.