Every day, I play a little game with myself. This is a game just for me. At regular intervals throughout the day, I look up at the door. If I see a teacher, EA, parent, or administrator walking by, I take note of what we’re doing at the time:
- Am I teaching at the front of the room?
- Are the students leading a lesson?
- Are the students working in groups?
- Am I working with guided groups?
- Am I conferencing/working with an individual student?
Then at the nutrition breaks and again at the end of the day, I think about what these people walking by might have seen. I begin to reflect:
- Do I spend too much time doing full class instruction?
- Am I circulating enough during small group time?
- Am I taking the time to really engage with the students during guided groups and conferences?
- Am I giving the students enough time to really engage with each other during class time?
Based on the answers to these questions, I start to re-look at my teaching practices and make changes for the next day. I certainly haven’t achieved perfection, but this low-stress game helps me make positive changes for my students, and for this, I’m grateful!
Please don’t get me wrong: I think that there’s value to full class and small group instruction, but I wonder about the amount that we need of each. As I’ve looked more closely at inquiry this year, I’ve realized that not everyone needs to hear the same information at the same time. Mini-lessons are wonderful, and scaffolding is important, but does this always need to happen with the full class? I’m not convinced that it does.
My goal with this game is to see that I’m spending less of my day talking to the full class and more of my day working with small groups. I also want students spending more of their day working with and learning from each other. I’ve found that this is the best way to meet individual student needs and see the most student growth in academic success, independence, and thinking skills. Have you ever played a game like this one? What would you hope for people to see as they walk by? I’d love to hear your thoughts of this!
Aviva – Trying To Look From The Outside, In