Saturday, January 4, 2014

A post from November (originally) :)

I cannot believe this academic year is going by so fast. This past week we had training at the OSDE in several components of literacy: phonics, phonological awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, ELL, lower and upper primary writing, MAX Teaching Reading and Writing program, and the Duke TIP program. We are very fortunate to receive wonderful professional development about once a month that we are able to bring to the teachers and administrators in our area.

One thing that has been on my mind lately is high expectations. We all know we should have high expectations for our students. But it is easy for us to forget this. Never ever limit your students. I had three summer sessions in the Great Expectations program and that is the one thing I really took away. It made all the difference. I noticed when I did not put a cap on my student's learning, and I stopped assuming he/she could or could not do something, my students excelled.

If I believed in them then they wanted to succeed and make me proud. They took ownership for their own learning!! I had a class about two years ago that was PreK and 100% ELL. Most of the students had no English exposure at home. This was their first time away from their parents. I challenged these kids like no one's business. I had them reading and writing after Christmas Break. They continue to be a high level class. I never used the excuse about my ELL population being high and thus limiting what they could do.

I had my PreK students going into Kindergarten reading on a Fountas and Pinnell level H-Q. No joke! And they comprehended the text. The Kindergarten teacher came to me to ask me how she could challenge this class. I saw these results even previous to this in the other grade levels I taught.

I did not see a student as a student of poverty, a student with a learning issue or any label at all. I told them every day they were smart and they would go to college. I became their biggest cheerleader.

Times are tough in education. Education is fluid and always evolving and we must keep up or sink. It is easy to get stuck in the gooey fluid and forget about our kids. Again, we need to be the biggest cheerleader in their lives. We only have them for that one academic year. It is up to us to either make them love learning and actually be sad when there is a school break or to have them dread coming to school and have no motivation to learn. It does not matter what the home life is like. We must make those hours in our classroom be their place of comfort. In turn, your students will outperform any grade-level expectations.