More Reading First

So, two days of being observed, and by being observed I mean as many as 6 extra adults in my room at the same time during the observing, and one day of “co-operative” teaching where their person comes in and co-teaches with me, modeling how they think things should be done and then, “helping” me teach my part of the co-teaching.  I’m just glad it’s over.  …………  I HOPE it’s over.  At least for the time being anyway.  I know it’s a full moon and all, but my kids are going nuts now.  Too many disruptions, and routine changes.

And while I have listened, nodded my head and smiled, on a number of levels I am also frustrated.  Over all though it has generally been valuable.  After some discussion, we have made some simple changes in classroom layout that will make things more affective, and we introduced some changes in some of the routines which frankly I welcome if they will change some of my kids disruptive behaviors.  They want me to use more effective ways to involve more of the children in the actual process.  Some of these are co-operative learning strategies.  The easiest one to implement with kinder kids is probably the “think, pair, share” model.  To work in kindergarten it needs structure.  We started out by assigning the partners at their tables before they moved to the carpet.  We assigned them partner names, in this case, partner A and Partner B.  That way we could get specific in telling them what to do.  “A, tell B what you are going to do after school.”  “B, raise your hands,”  etc, etc.   Another specific thing she modeled for me, something that I had gotten sloppy on, was using specific hand signals to illicit behaviors.  Such as one for think time, one for group response, etc.  If I can retrain the kids to move away from blurting out the answers and cheating the others of a chance to respond that would be great.  So all in all, I learned some things and will be making some changes to tighten things up a bit.

Was everything good?  Not in my book. Yesterday she made reference or alluded to the “fact”  that the 5 day cycle in Trophies was cyclical in that the same things or types of things or instruction tended to happen on the same days of the 5 day cycle in each weekly unit.  I hadn’t really picked up on that during the last three years of teaching Trophies.  I had heard it alluded to, but hadn’t really “seen” it.  I had dismissed my not seeing it as being due to the fact that we were on a 6 day teaching rotation at my last school to accommodate the art, music, science, library and PE specialists schedules, and also due to holidays and staff training days, we rarely actually taught day one on Monday and day five on Friday on any kind of consistent basis.  But since she brought it up, I took some time last night and looked at the schedule over multiple weeks.  I still don’t see it.  It might be the case in the upper grades, but I can’t find it in the kindergarten sequence.

Some of the other things they did, or showed me, or want me to do  are iffy.  For example, I went out and spent $35.00 on dry erase markers (the ones available at school were the high odor ones) so that she could have the kids use small white boards at their tables.   I hate using paint or markers in class, they are messy and the kids get into trouble with them.  It’s also a management issue.  Money is tight right now, and getting tighter in my school and district with millions being cut from the district budgets by the state. They can write with pencil or crayon on paper just fine.  Or better yet, I have these special tablets I purchased at the National Kindergarten Conference two years ago that are made up of iron powder between two layers of plastic that kids can write on with magnetic stylists.  She didn’t want to use them.

“Worksheet” is a bad word on general principle with them.  Regardless of how appropriate the selected worksheet might be, (in fact, presented as center activities, my worksheets are OK) but if I use the same worsheet whole group, it’s bad.  They appear to want the kids rotating through a variety of small group centers rather than doing the same work in a larger group.  If most of it’s the same work, why should it make a difference?  It’s not like the whole group work is all that my students do, they leave the seat work to do computers, small group instruction, and some other small center activities, it just the primary activity that they start they daily work from.

The specialist appear to want fidelity to the Reading program, but they pick and chose the parts they want to fidelity to, but are reluctant to allow me (or the other teachers for that matter) to do the same.  To show letter formation, I use a Frog Street Press DVD, I sometimes use different music selections than the ones that come with the program.  For my Morning Message, shared writing activity, they even changed out my paper tablet for crying out loud.  I’m not buying the ones they provided, the giant post it note variety.  The first time they don’t have the replacement tablet, I’m back to my old ones that cost about two thirds less.

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5 thoughts on “More Reading First

  1. Good Lord, I could be writing these posts with you! That’s exactly the same nonsense I’m dealing with here!! It’s infuriating!!! I’m so sick of hearing how my babies need less whole group and more small group/centers. They can NOT handle centers on their own yet. They just can’t! Today is Day 50 for us, which in the whole scheme of things, is not a lot of days. It certainly isn’t enough for some of mine to have the routines down pat. I, like you, have such a broad range of ability levels, that it makes centers almost impossible. It’s not simple a matter of putting out 4 or 5 centers for all the babies to rotate through, like they make it out to be. My “high” kids get immediately bored with the “low” level centers, the “low” kids can’t even attempt to do the “high” centers, mostly because they still don’t know their freakin’ letters!! The poor “middle” kids are just lost in the shuffle. Ugh! It’s so frustrating! OK, I’ll stop this rant right here, since this is YOUR place to vent, not mine. Sorry! But, I feel your pain, I feel your pain. 🙂

  2. Yeah, to differentiate the centers creates a whole new level of problems. This early in the year, I have to manage everyone in their centers, I feel like a circus ringmaster, and if I do that, there goes the small group instruction that we are doing the centers for in the first place…. I’ve got kids who can’t write their names and don’t know many if any of their letters and sounds either. I talked some weeks ago about that low group and how they can’t focus or even respond very well in whole group discussion. It was almost wickedly fun to watch the “expert” try to deal with some of them. In whole group she finally stopped this one kid and removed him and put him on a chair, hum, there went HIS A and B partnership for the think-pair-share….. And by HIS normal standards of behavior he was being an angel. When I’m teaching alone, I have to weight, the affect of some of their not paying attention with the affect on the teaching that stopping and dealing with that individual is going to have on the rest of instruction. Some of the other partnerships weren’t working very well due to language limitations either.

  3. If the “expert” consultants, who by the way ARE NOT in the classroom every blessed day anymore, could all agree on ONE teaching method and CLONE their idea of the PERFECT teacher they’d still be in trouble because they couldn’t find the PERFECT CHILD to teach!! Good grief!

    To all the experts: Ask me what I need. Give me some advice. Give me some ideas. Make some suggestions. But don’t act like my twenty+ years experience and my Master’s degree are less reliable than yours. Don’t think you can waltz into my room and tell me how to teach MY class. This is exactly why teachers don’t get enough respect from the general public- we can’t get it from our own colleagues!

    Sorry buddy- didn’t mean to move the soapbox to your corner! LOL

  4. Oh, I don’t have a problem with the soapbox, but we are just preaching to the choir here. Sometimes I get in kind of a rut with my teaching style. It was nice to be reminded of some things I’ve done in the past and had forgotten, or had somehow lost from my pallet.
    She was back today, and I wasn’t really expecting here, and it really went better and seem much more collegial in our relationship. I think some of our differences, that I didn’t by the way fight with her over, are basically style issues, I can deal with that as long as she can. The specific strategies that seem worthwhile to me, I will try to implement, some of the others I will try to adapt to my style. It was kind of fun to see her trying to interact with some of my truly difficult students. She could see that things like the think, pair, share, were going to need specific pairings, for some kids.

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