Kristi Keery-Bishop was my previous vice principal. She’s also a wonderful educational blogger and tweeter, and somebody that never fails to challenge my thinking with her hard questions. Last night, she wrote a blog post that really made me stop and think. I was among some educators that commented on her post, and this morning, I read Kristi’s reply.
It’s this reply that had me considering today how we can move beyond the “Lite Brite pattern.” And that’s when I thought of my experiences this year. I started the year with a number of BIG changes:
- a change in school and location.
- a change in grade.
- a change in student needs (with more ELL — English Language Learners — than I’ve ever taught before).
Despite these big changes, I thought that I could then just make some additional small ones because I knew in my head what I wanted my program to look like: bringing the FDK, play-based philosophy up to Grade 1. I really embraced this philosophy last year with my Grade 5 class, and while I knew that I was now teaching a different grade in a different school, inquiry/play-based learning is still inquiry/play-based learning, so how hard could it be? It was hard though. My students needed more structure and support. They needed more oral language activities. And they needed some very specific direct instruction to address reading and writing needs. I had to make changes. As Kristi mentions in her comment though, I wasn’t being forced by others to make these changes: I knew in my head that they had to happen.
My initial big change this year spiralled into a number of smaller ones, but ones that had me reflecting on what the students needed and how I could program better for them. We’ve only been in school for five weeks, but in that time, I’ve changed more than I probably ever have before. I have no doubt that I’ll make even more changes in the coming months, and if they benefit kids, I know that they’ll be worth it.
I realize that we can make changes without switching schools, locations, or grades, but I wonder if we can really take a chance at moving away from the “Lite Brite pattern” if we don’t struggle a bit. It’s through this struggle that we look inside ourselves and seek out others to do more and to do better. I want to achieve Dr. Malloy‘s goal to make students “thrive and learn.” Do you? How do you plan on doing so? Here’s to a year of many great changes and colourful, creative “Lite Brite pictures!”
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