Teaching with Intention: Chapter 3

Finally jumped on the bandwagon and purchased Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller. What an awesome read!
I've decided to join in on the fun brought by Greg over at The Kindergarten Smorgasbord as we discuss the chapters in this book. 
This week is:
This chapter focuses on the overall classroom environment and organization required for student learning and engagement to take place. Debbie discusses her encounter with a first year teacher, Katy. Katy states "I haven't really been able to do the kinds of things I learned about in school. There's so much other stuff I have to do that I never really have time to do the things I want to do."

Uhhmmm... *PRAISE*
Last year was my first year teaching and man oh man do I understand her. I learned so many strategies, activities, and lessons in school. However, once I stepped foot inside the classroom, I realized it wasn't all that picture perfect. There should really be an education course titled "The Reality of Being in a Classroom". My first year of teaching was tough. Without the support of administration and waaayy too many textbooks and resources, it was overwhelming. As I began getting to know my students, I realized what worked and didn't work for them. I began setting up an environment that would foster their learning. 

In this chapter, Debbie highlights authentic environments. A quiet, well-behaved group of students starring at the teacher as she teaches would be something we would find in a magazine. (Sort of like the model home she discusses) Nonetheless, there's no passion, engagement, or authenticity in that scenario. Freedom and choice are the key factors of learning and engagement. Children should feel comfortable in a classroom that is organized and well put together. Routines should be modeled and remodeled until students become experts in understanding how to work cooperatively and how to embrace classroom freedom. 

This was one of the questions Debbie asked the reader to reflect on. Prior to reading this book, I really thought my classroom had everything it needed. I've always seen meeting areas in Kindergarten classrooms. It didn't hit me until right now that I don't have a meeting area for my whole class to meet at! My classroom is pretty small and I don't have much room for a meeting area or a small group instruction area. My small group instruction usually takes place in one of the group clusters while the other students work at other centers. I think I will be purchasing a large rug to place in front of our Promethean board and turn that into our 'Meeting Area". Additionally, I might just do the craziest thing and get rid of my teacher desk. I never sit there anyways and it's taking up so much space! This might be replaced with a kidney table which will be our new small group instruction area. :)

Our library is one of the most important areas in our room. Students engage in collaborative reading or use the rug area to meet for group activities. 

Sure, there's many areas and things i'd LOVE to have in my classroom. But, i've faced reality and realized I have to work with the space i've been given.

"...teachers realized that teaching isn't so much about the shape of the tables, the carpet, or whether the shelves were high or low. Good teaching, more than anything else, rests squarely with us." 

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