Last year, I thought that I changed a lot. I went from teaching Kindergarten for 8 years to teaching Grade 1. I started using Web 2.0 tools on my own and in my classroom, and I started sharing my learning with others through my website and on my blogs. I even started leading some professional development both online and in person. I was feeling good! I think that I may have even convinced myself that the big changes were over for me. I was wrong.
It’s June now, and as the school year quickly comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect on my teaching and learning this year. Despite what I may have thought at the end of last year, this year has been an even bigger year of changes. Here are some of the ways that I’ve changed over the year:
1) I now teach a Grade 1/2 split, and I LOVE teaching a split. Having two grade levels in one classroom has really forced me to change my teaching style. I now spend half of my day teaching Language, and half of my day teaching Math, and I fully integrate Science, Social Studies, Health, and the Arts. By having students explore these other subject areas as part of Language and Math, I think that they are actually learning more about these other subjects, and in a meaningful way too. The students are also getting even more opportunities to read and write, and I think that this is so important too. I have definitely started to see the power in integration!
2) I now give my students more control over their own learning. Even though I always differentiated in the classroom, I still had basically the same activity that all students completed, and then I just made some slight changes to this activity. I never really gave “choice,” and I never really saw the value in this choice, until this year. By providing more choices of tools and topics, the students are taking ownership over their own learning and getting even more excited about the learning process too.
3) I now let the students “lead.” I can’t thank George Couros (@gcouros) and Shawn Ram (@sram_socrates) enough for helping me see the value in doing this. Student voice and student leadership is so important in the classroom and school community. Now when my students have questions, I can often keep quiet, and they can help each other. They have even started to identify on their own some different “experts” in the classroom, and they will consult these people when they have difficulty. The students realize that they can often learn just as much from each other as they can from me, and I couldn’t be happier about this!
4) I now understand what collaboration is really about, and I think that the students do too. Collaboration is not just about working in a group, but it is about learning, producing, and creating together. Watching the students now, I see that even at this young age, they are doing just that!
5) I now know never to underestimate the skills and abilities of students, regardless of age. As I watch my Grade 1 and 2 students use a variety of tools from blogs to Glogster to Prezi, I continue to be amazed by not just what they’re doing, but how much they understand too. Yes, the students are using these tools to help them develop their reading, writing, and math skills, but as they confidently discuss finding HTML code here and embedding there, I realize that they’ve developed a whole new language too. These are 21st century learners, and they are learning the language and literacy behind 21st century skills.
Change used to scare me, but now I know that changes are good, and I’m thrilled that I’ve made all of these changes over the year. I can’t wait to see what changes next year brings. What changes have you made this year? What changes do you hope to make next year? I would love to hear!
Great blogpost, Aviva. Your students are so lucky to have a teacher who is so willing to learn new things, and in turn, be taught by the students! You are a true inspiration.
Thanks Sylvia! That’s so nice of you to say. It’s really all of you that inspire me though. I’ve learned so much from my PLN on Twitter, and all of you really have helped me change. Thank you!!
What an exciting couple of years for you and your students! The biggest change for me this year was returning to an elementary classroom after teaching 7 years as a Gr. 8-12 art/photography teacher. My grade 4/5 class is nothing like the elementary classes I taught in before! Video conferencing equipment, 1:1 netbooks and more! I love it, but it took me until December to get over the shock to my pedagogical system! Next year, I want to connect my students to world. I’d like to use the video conferencing and skype to change how my students learn.
I always appreciate how your energy and enthusiasm comes through here and on Twitter 🙂
Wow Errin! That’s quite a change. I love how you’re willing to embrace these changes though, and how you’re already thinking about what you’re going to do next year. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!
Thanks for the kind words too! I really appreciate them!
You are one of many people who have inspired me to make many changes of my own this year. Thanks for sharing and reflecting upon your experiences through social media. One change I need to continue to make is letting my students take the lead! I will work on that one next year. Your students are so lucky to have you as their teacher.
Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I’m so glad that you shared about your “changes” too, and I hope that you continue to tweet about your “changes” next year. I’m glad to have connected with you!
I have listed your blog as one my teachers should read over the summer. You are so inspirational and give such insight into what true teaching should be. Thank you for sharing yourself so openly with all of us.
Thank you so much, JoAnn! I really appreciate all of your support and positive feedback too!
Thanks for such a wonderful reflection of your year. I always enjoy reading about what you are doing in your innovative classroom! To see first hand what first graders can do is motivating for me as a third grade teacher. The possibilities are endless!
You’re inspirational! 🙂
Thanks Linda! You and your students have inspired me so much. I love reading your blog posts too and seeing just what’s possible in a primary classroom! Thank you for your comment and your very kind words as well!
It’s truly amazing what kids are capable of doing when you give them a chance to show you! I am realizing the very same thing Aviva. My students amaze me everyday with strategies they come up with and solutions on how they solve problems.
Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned this year. Imagine what you will learn next year about yourself and the new group of students you will have. Always enjoy reading your posts.
Thanks for your comment, April! I’m glad to hear that you’re noticing the same thing too. It really is incredible what all students can do!