Friday, March 28, 2014

The Balanced Day: Teaching Well

As a classroom generalist, and a teacher of all subjects for young children, I find a main focus of my work is creating a balanced day for children.  That balanced day includes learning in multiple ways, time for play, and socialization.  The learning design is a give and take which starts with standards and students' identified interests and needs, and grows with a "call and respond" like movement not unlike a dance, a give and take. Choreography.

The same is true at the collegial level since my colleagues are also working towards balance in their efforts--a balance of responding to their students, meeting system-wide expectations, and pushing forward with new learning and endeavor. It's an energized momentum that keeps our school and system buzzing with activity, continual positive change, and healthy debate.

There's a need for balance too with regard to school efforts which we know can be limitless, and one's personal life, family, healthy routines, recreation, and exploration, because as I've written many times, but not always followed--"all work and no play," makes educators dull and less effective.

The greater the transparency of effort, direction, and need, the more balance is possible because colleagues, students, and family members know where you're heading, and are able to better support, communicate, and even challenge that direction in positive ways--ways that efficiently provide momentum for your learning/teaching path.

Also, a regular pattern of identifying and solidifying the mission is integral. For me, the role, in many ways, is classroom conductor, one who leads and orchestrates multiple efforts to foster deep, meaningful, student-centered, standards-based learning each day--one who facilitates students' learning flexibility and facility as they learn to learn, learn about themselves, work/play together, and gain a strong foundation of skill, concept, and knowledge across disciplines.

As the classroom conductor, coach, and mentor, it's my role to access and use the best ideas, materials, problems, and information to support my learners' needs and the expectations of the learning community.

I need to continually ask the questions: How can I balance my time and effort to best serve and support the children in my midst--what do they need, and what will they profit from?  How can I support a holistic learning environment that is joyful, engaging, empowering, and academically rich?

The answers to those questions will continually change, and benefit from apt curation of online/offline tools, information, and materials, collegial share near and far, and targeted, efficient, and rich collaboration within the learning community.

The questions that will lead this work include:
  • Is this time well spent, and directed towards serving children well?
  • What do children need in order to develop strong, joyful learning dispositions, mindsets, and foundations?
  • What routines best support optimal collaboration and efforts within the learning community?
  • How can I contribute to the greater learning community with care and positive impact?
  • In what ways am I able to foster balanced routines in school and at home to maximize my contribution and work to teach children well?
The path of teaching well twists and turns as it responds to multiple stimulus. The educator continually has to assess and determine how to respond, and what's the best course given many possible choices, and many voices.  Choosing with transparency, collaboration, and a child-centered approach invigorates the path and directs our work well.  Onward (with balance)!