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 🙂
Your game is a wonderful self reflection tool. You have specifically targeted whole class instruction as a behaviour to reflect on for frequency. I think the same game could work for other teachers, using whatever instructional practice they want to target (although I think the whole class instruction one would be a great one for many to consider!). Good goal, good reflection tool. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Kristi! I really appreciate your comment. I’ve found this game to be a nice, low stress way for me to evaluate my own practice on a day-to-day basis. I also love how the game has helped me make some good, positive changes in our room (largely less talking time from me, and more small group/guided group interactions). And games are fun to play — I’m glad that I can play this one! 🙂
Great activity Aviva! I try to examine whether or not I’m talking too much. Funny thing is when I passed on the responsibility of exploring content to the students this week (thanks to http://www.creatinginfographics.wordpress.com) instead of having me blather on, some of them objected to their setting their own pace! What do you make of that?
Thanks for the comment, Diana! Did you ask the students why they objected? I’d be curious to know. I wonder if it’s a case of this being a new way for them, and just needing the extra time to adjust. At the beginning of the year when we started with inquiry, it was a real struggle. Students were used to getting the answer from the teacher, and it took a while for them to get excited by the “hard questions” and the thrill of finding out the information for themselves. Could this be a similar situation? Hmmm …