There isn’t a day that goes by in my teaching this year where I don’t use something I learned this past summer in the Greater Kansas City Writing Project's summer institute. I think it’s both a blessing and a curse, if you will. A blessing because I am MUCH more reflective about my teaching practice – I want to really think about what I’m doing with the children and why I’m doing it. I guess that is also where it’s a curse, because I am so much harder on myself this year than in years past when it comes to what I’m doing! Today I reread the burning issue paper I did in the SI because I’ve been trying to write a piece for Teaching Young Children magazine, and I wanted to write about the experience I’ve had bringing what I did in the SI to the classroom. Reading it, I was thrilled because I have done SO much of what I set out to do, from giving the parents a blank book and asking them to be a part of the journaling process for the kids, to being intentional when we read books about discussing who the authors and illustrators are. Last week, I was doing some paperwork in my classroom while my assistant teacher did circle time where she was reading to the kids. She said who the book was written by and started reading. Little Alta, who is three going on 33, said, “WAIT! Miss Linda! But, who is the illustrator??” and in that tiny moment, I wanted to cry.
This year has been really challenging for me so far. I’m not sure if it’s just figuring out how to juggle a full time job while having one child with me and another one at a different, new school, or if it’s the challenge of teaching in a multi-age classroom for the first time. I’ve had a hard time finding a groove, but I feel like now I’m starting to do just that – yes, I know it’s November! I often beat myself up for doing TOO much reading and writing and perhaps not enough of the hands on, manipulative or scientific stuff. I wonder, am I losing certain kids along the way? And the answer is complicated. I think I’m reaching my kids in the best ways I know how, and being more reflective now gives me a different perspective, maybe even making me hyper-aware of what I include or don’t in everyday activities. Like I said, it’s both a blessing and a curse!
I no longer have to wonder how to answer a parent’s questions about how I teach reading and writing – in fact, I overheard a coworker saying a parent asked her about that at conferences and I was quick to point out all that she does in her teaching already – for TWO year olds, nonetheless! One look in my classroom – or on my classroom blog (something else I would have NEVER thought to do before this summer) will give anyone that answer. I’m proud so far of what we’ve done this year, but I know that every year beyond this one will be shaped by what is working, or not working today.
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