Well, now, here I am, and please excuse my absence. We are all adjusting to our fall schedules that look the same every day, basically with little new or exciting thing to post. We do LOVE our new rolls, but they do leave me brain dead by the end of the day. I miss my playdates, laundry hanging, bread baking, and back yard schooling. However, I really, really love being a teacher again.
I feel like my experience as a homeschooler has deeply affected my attitude about learning, teaching, and education- for the better. I now have a deep respect for the individual learner, whereas before, that respect was just an idea that I did not know how to activate in the classroom. I have become more lenient and seek intently to discover where the child is in their learning progression and build from there. I realize the idiocy of trying to make sure that every child must know the same thing in the same way to recognize results. I realize that these young people 11-13 year olds are cooped up in a cement building for 8 hours a day with little more than seconds to whisper to friends, run around, or even breath fresh air. I understand, more than just theoretically, that taking away things that their bodies physically needs (friendship, movement, imagination, and fresh air-let alone freedom of choice and ownership) can be devastating to their ability to learn. I am positive that each child I teach has parents that not only know their child best, but also that 99.9% of parents are extremely concerned about what and how their child learns. I know how far a child can soar with one- on- one attention and instruction and the ability to learn at their own pace rather than by Friday at 3 PM. I am learning new lessons every.day. about kids and myself and teaching and learning. This is a journey that I relish, and I am able to approach this year more confidently than I ever have before. I am also more calm, more willing to listen to my students and their parents. I am less likely to freak out when my lesson plan doesn't get executed perfectly. My paradigm has shifted and it is no longer "my" classroom, but theirs, and I am just a steward of the students' classroom. I am there to support and encourage, not to run the show - my way of the highway.
By the way, this approach is not one that I was taught in teacher school. "They" emphasize in teacher school to come out strong and hard, to lay down the rules, and take charge immediately. But this year, I didn't. This year, I started with kindness, fairness, and lots of opportunities for the kids to be themselves. I sprinkled that with fun, games, music, and hid enough Spanish language to allow them to ask for more. The students are kind back, they are asking questions, they have positive attitudes, and so far they are learning and speaking Spanish.