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Classroom Voices

January 23, 2016

Starting the year refreshed, I look back on the last 5 months and think wow.. did that happen? It went so fast. I must admit that it was such a nice transition between schools.  The smoothest Ive ever had. Helpful, friendly, professional folks at every turn. How lucky I am to work with an awesome community at JIS.

As we enter 2016, I’m reminded of every time we go into the new calendar year, which is a time of reflection for some educators- we are halfway there. We think about how our learners have grown. How much they have matured. How much they have progressed.

When I was teaching Grade 1, I was always amazed how well kids could read when they came back from the 3 week holiday break because they read a lot and loved reading. It’s a bit of a magical time to reconnect with the kids. It’s also a bit if a sad time because you’ve built up all this rapport and soon you will let go and they will move on and so will you. It made me think a lot about what do I want to be remembered by as a teacher?

Then I reflected back on my days a student. I had tyrants and motivators as teachers. I don’t think Im a tyrant. (are there really tyrants these days in education? – Man I hope not). Motivator! I think if anything kids take away from me teaching them is that they should be self motivated, thinkers and  empathetic. I hope when the kids leave my class they may not at the time remember what an acute or obtuse angle is that they practice being decent human beings. And.. this needs practice. And we as teachers are at the coal face. Like it or not, we teach good and bad. We teach courtesy. Respect. Empathy.

This year I did 2 things I never did before (and I learned these form my new colleagues). I explicitly set aside time for Class Goals and Learner Conferencing.

Class Goals: We did things like talk about issues on your mind, what is going well, or not. Classroom issues- the aircon being too cold, not enough games, or time to write or where we sit. Important issues to an 8 year old. And to me. I mean what great feedback to know if they feel bored!  Or engaged. Or find something that us hard.  It was a way to give them a voice. Its their world, they need a say. We have an agreement about our meetings about what we do to keep us focused. Its not long, its created by them. We dont meet for long-often 10 minutes. It’s a way to give ownership the learners.

Learner Conferencing is getting to the individual. I conference each week with each learner. Its always different. Maybe it just a ‘hows it going’ pastoral conversation. Other times its specific, checking learning, assessment stuff. I think the kids feel valued by this. The point is that each student gets my time, one on one. Valuable time.

Great to work in a community that supports this interaction with kids. Thanks to my colleagues for the great ideas. 



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