So this year has been one of ups and down. Good and bad. Learning and exploring. This year has been a year of reflecting and understanding what my calling is. I am saying “Goodby” to teaching in the traditional sense of the word.
What do I mean when I say I am saying “goodbye” to teaching. Am I leaving the profession? No. Am I looking for jobs outside of teaching? No. I am just going to be teaching in a different way, approach teaching and learning in a different way.
How am I saying goodbye to teaching? I am saying goodbye to worksheets, powerpoints, and teaching for standardized tests. I am taking my classroom, my style of teaching, and passion in a different directions. A direction when shared sounds a little like Project Based Learning(PBL), a little like a flipped classroom, and a little like traditional teaching. My goal is not just to teach. It is to explore the realms of learning, it is to meet students where they are, it is to motivate, evaluate learning, to do different and unique projects, it is to encourage, and most of all it is to foster a love of learning.
My ideas come from my frustration with teaching resource and newer ideas for learning such as interactive notebooks and technology in the classroom. Yes, those are great ideas, but something I learned is interactive notebooks while they can be effective can get just as monotonous and boring as worksheets for students. In my classroom I want us to jump, sing, dance, research, and write. I am not sure about other schools, but here the writing process is not taught. Many of my 5th graders didn’t know the process of publishing your final draft, they could barely brainstorm and then we expect them to write 3 paragraphs really? I have a song for the writing process we sing. The highlight of my 5th grade reading/writing groups week was when we got to write: we started with research and went all the way to typing on the computer, that was by far their favorite. They enjoyed the singing and dancing and websites like flocabulary for social studies. They enjoyed the movement. Teaching needs to allow the students to explore and research and expand their knowledge. If we are working on FDR, and they research him and it links them to the New Deal, let them move onto that, then the TVA, if it is exciting and they want to keep learning do not keep it in a box for this assignment or that, let them explore and learn, in a safe way of course. If we are studying WWII read a diary of Anne Frank, let them talk to a Holocaust survivor. Here in Spartanburg there is a company with part of the Berlin wall, when studying the Cold War I would love to take my kids there, let them see it in person, touch it, feel it, ask questions, research and learn more about it. They need to fully understand what its significance and importance are. Let them talk to the company about why they have part of the wall. The more they learn the better. We have standards, yes but let’s make those the minimum and let the curious nature of our kids shine through, let them be kids and learn and explore.
So next year, whereever I end up being, in a classroom, in a different role. I am letting my students explore, they have guidelines and standards but I am letting them run with it, letting them ask the questions on field trips, letting them write and type. Letting them be in charge of their learning. Let them dance and sing. Let them sit on the floor, let them lay down, let them sit on beanbag chairs, what works for them let them be actively learning. Let theme explore their curiosity.
Teach outside of the box. Don’t fall into the worksheet slump we all fall into, and be creative and innovative. Be who you are and let that shine in your teaching.
Are you going to say goodbye to traditional teaching? Say goodbye to the standard and teach to the exceptional. Make your students and classroom stand out. Make you students keep the desire for learning.