Friday, 12 June 2015

Teaching with Intention: Chapter 1

I signed up with Greg Smedley to do the Book Study, but being in Australia I'm not on holidays yet so I'm a bit behind. Time to play catch-up!!

I have owned the book Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller for about two years and had it sitting on my shelf, unread, the entire time. When I heard about the book study I jumped at the chance to join in knowing that it would encourage me to read this amazing book!

My ideal classroom is lived-in and well-loved. I want the students to feel proud of their room and to take ownership over it - it's their learning space. It would have bright colours, but not look too busy. It would have student work on display, and anchor charts to show learning. Students would have their own space to store their things so they are responsible for their learning tools. They would have some choice during the day to engage them with their learning. Students would know what was expected of them for both their behaviour and their academic outcomes. There would be chatter, but not loud noise, with music to signal transitions. There would be charts documenting their achievements. It would feel welcoming, open and caring.

The students are involved in their learning and engaged with it. There are conversations about what they are doing, as well as conversations about their interests and what they've been up to. The students take ownership over the things in the classroom so they have pride in packing up their room. Students are working together and working independently. The teacher roves to support students, or works with small groups, or works 1-on-1 at a conferencing table. Students know what is expected of them, and the teacher has high expectations of what they can achieve. The teacher records learning, but lets the students share their learning in their own words. The teacher facilitates while the students do the work.

My students know my expectations of them, but we are still working on some behaviours (like calling out). I have charts around the room to document their achievements, like the number of days at school and a score chart for specific behaviours.

When they follow the description below a character as a whole class I tick off a number, when they've shown that behaviour five times they get a whole class prize.

I have bright colours in my room using furniture and posters, and the laminated cellophane on some of my windows.

I display a lot of student work, give them lots of jobs to help me so they are involved with running the classroom, I use some music for transitions and I document reflections in subject-specific journals to show their learning.
My students have an assigned seat and a tub that is under their desk, so they have their space which they take ownership over and which they have to keep tidy and organised.

At my school every student Prep-Grade 6 (prep is the first year of school) has to have three individual learning goals - 1 for reading, 1 for writing and 1 for maths. My students have these. They also have to independently provide three pieces of evidence before they can achieve the goal and get a new one.

I need to work on transitions! I have a lot of wanderers, and other kids follow them. It drives me nuts, so it's definitely something to work on. I think my room can look cluttered, so I need to work on that, particularly with my 'office' area. I've got problems with lighting in my classroom because where I sit to teach is in front of a big window, which can cause problems for my students looking at me.I also need to brush up on my 1-to-1 conferencing. I get stuck roving or sitting with a group, and don't prioritise short, structured conferencing. I need to work on goal-setting. I set the goals for my students, rather than with my students, so they forget what their goal is and forget to show me evidence of it.

This was a great first chapter, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest!!