“It’s time to slow down, think about what we are trying to accomplish, and do that well.” -Taberski
Behavior strategies, room arrangement, IEP data collection, writing IEP goals, evaluation of students, meeting with families, supporting families, behavior data collection, literacy strategies, math strategies, science kits, CAFE, Reading Workshop, Writer’s Workshop, F&Ps, Math Workshop, Word Work, Words Their Way, Just Right Books, standards, observations, launches, exit tickets, testing, interims, behavior, social skills, self regulation skills, Zones, tracking student behavior throughout the day, appropriate reinforcers, engaging material, rigor, demonstrating learning, “I can” statements, building relationships with students, building relationships with coworkers, lesson planning, prepping for lessons, getting behavior under control, teaching how to read, getting students to attend to lessons….the list goes on.
These are all things I am supposed to be doing. Most on a daily basis.
But I read the above quote in an article I am reading for class and it made me stop and think. What has been working for me recently is exactly this; slowing down and thinking about what I am trying to accomplish. I feel bad that I am a year and seven months in and only just now feeling like I might understand what my job is but I guess that means next year will be better. It is sad though that my students have missed out on learning some things because I was so overwhelmed I wasn’t truly teaching. I can blame their behavior and, yes, their behavior often gets in the way of our having successful lessons BUT when their behavior wasn’t in the way my lessons have been all over the place and trying to encompass a million things all at once. I have spent the last year and a half dipping my toes into various things I am supposed to be doing, never doing any of it thoroughly because there was always something else I was supposed to be doing so I moved to that. I haven’t been able to juggle all of these balls at once. And the result has been a lack of academic progress for my students. They had not progressed in reading or math up until recently.
I am not going to blame myself completely here. I am going to place some blame on the system. There are some great strategies out there for teachers, some great resources and approaches to teaching but when you throw all of them at new teachers all at once and expect them to do all of it AND have their students make progress…well, I think that is stupid. Maybe it is different for general education teachers although I see them struggling too, unable to find minutes in their day to do all of the expectations of new programming with students.
But what are my goals for my students?
1. That their self regulation and social skills progress to a point where they can join a mainstream class and decrease their time in my class.
2. That they learn to read.
3. That they learn about themselves and find empowerment through learning the stories of others like them and through sharing their own stories.
4. That they are happy. That they have fun. That they develop friendships.
5. That they make progress towards or within grade level math.
It has only been in the last couple of months that I have focused in on these goals with my students. I am beginning to plan in a more simplistic way that focuses on these goals. I know that this focus will greatly improve my work next year. I can only hope that I help my current students make some progress on these specific goals going forward this year.