Classroom GPS #sol18
March 7, 2018
Big Question for Today (everyday?)
How do we expect the kids to get in the car, if they don’t know where we are going?
Before we turn to beautiful projects, anchor charts, and even books, we have to look at those little kiddos in front of us and think what are we going to teach you. In order to think about what we are going to teach them, we have to think about what they already know. In order to think about what they already know, I am sorry to say friends, we have to have assessments. And that is the house that learning built.
It isn’t about a learning objective posted on the wall. It is this… hey, kiddos, today I’m going to teach you…I know this seems simple, but it speaks volumes.
When I explain to the students quickly and succinctly what we are all about in this time, this month, this year, as a educator, I do so many things. I respect them. I say we are partners in this work. I set the table. I frame the learning. I make the ground we stand on very firm. We all need that.
When I say remember yesterday we were….. now today we are going to … I remind us that we are not starting from scratch. We are building something here. There are steps involved. I think you’ve got this.
When I keep my focus lesson short, I remind all of us that the time the students are doing the work is the most important time. I remind them that I want them to have the maximum amount of time to read, write, try things out, and learn. I remind all of us that I don’t think the learning happens when I am reading a story, talking or explaining. The learning happens when they are DOING.
When I have time that is dedicated to students doing the work, trying it out, when I am just a coach on the side most of the time, when I ground my talk in the focus lesson, I keep the lanes steady. I make it clearer to see what we are working on, what we are working towards, and what it will look like when we get there.
When I think about making connections across the day, across the school, across the week, across the year, I am building thinking skills.
When lessons fail and they do, it’s mostly because we didn’t use the GPS. We didn’t think where are we going. Those first years of teaching are tough. You only can see as far as your headlight beams. You haven’t had enough experiences to know where the potholes might be or the best place to stop for coffee or even the most common traffic patterns. In those times and many later times, we can rely on conversations with our colleagues and our students. We can rely on the standards, our assessments, and our observations. We can rely on the GPS.
Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. Lao Tzu