Thursday, June 28, 2012

One Size Will NEVER Fit All

Never in a million years did I think I'd be handling power tools, making robots, and designing a house at school. Actually, I never imagined myself using a chop saw ... ever. (Will come in handy this fall when we redo our floors!) 

This morning as Commissioner Bowen mentioned the schools that are a part of the Cohort for Customized Learning, it really put together some of the pieces that I hadn't yet heard from my school, which happens to be one of the districts included. This fall I will be piloting a vertical team and teaching Language Arts and Social Studies to a mixed classroom of seventh and eighth graders. (Maybe even some bright sixth grade kids who, at their own pace, become proficient at the standards they're working on.) I'm not skeptical of the idea, in fact I'm more than excited. Although I know that in any given classroom you've got 25 kids at all different levels, the intentions of the vertical team at my school is to bring that number to maybe 25 kids at four or five similar levels. Still, am I supposed to cut myself into five different pieces to teach five different levels in one fifty minute class? Teaching eighth grade (and I'm crossing my fingers for seventh!), as we mentioned in class, they're a little more independent. Or, they can become so through modeling, practice, and good management.

Here's where I can take a number of the things we've learned about reverse and transparent teaching this week into consideration. Posting videos for kids to watch at home or in their study hall (which falls at the end of the day - perfect!) demonstrating skills, instructions or even lectures as they return the following day ready to do more hands on, interactive activities. Allowing students to teach one another when they've finished or are advanced at something (on my four point rubric, being able to teach someone else that skill earns you a four - going from proficient to exceeds). Using Edmodo and Google Docs to create a classroom where students, parents, and even other (reluctant to use technology - maybe I can convince them!) teachers can interact, stay in contact, and explore what we're doing.

School, really, is the only place where we base everything upon age. In my work, do I work with people my age? Maybe a few, but most are quite older. Is this model really preparing kids for their future? Instead of being the traditional teacher who stands in front of the room and everyone faces foward, listens, and takes notes, I'd rather be the guide, challenging my students in real life situations which I know they'll face some day. Why waste their time (and my own) teaching the things they already know? Instead, we'll take pre-assessments, find out where our kids are at, regroup them based on "levels," and finally allow them to become proficient (or even master) certain skills. One size doesn't fit all. It never will.

I was really pleased to learn about some things this week that I can actually take with me and use in my own classroom. The workshops I took were relevant to what I actually do as a teacher. This is what we need to do for kids, too. Make learning important, relevant, and realistic. 

No comments:

Post a Comment