Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Day 74: Back in Rows

It's about this time of year that I move the kids from groups back into rows.  I don't like having them in rows all facing the front for a few reasons.  First, I don't setting the implication that it's MY class.  I want it to be OUR class.  Second, in spite of the fact that the norm for public school classrooms has been lecture-style teaching for thousands of years, that doesn't seem to dawn on the people who install writing surfaces.  Mine are scattered around my room making it difficult to justify facing students in any particular direction.

I prefer my students to work in groups, learning how to work as a team, using each other as resources to grow and explore.  Inevitably, around this point in the year, I move them back into rows because I'm not seeing the type of progress I'm looking for in that regard.

I put the rows in pairs so there will still be collaboration, but hopefully, more on-task collaboration.  At least for today, I got acceptable results.

In light of my revelation about empathy last week, I need to appreciate that my students have a certain level of comfort and familiarity with lecture-style learning.  Moving them away from that without at least paying tribute to their desires seems unfair.

I'm also restructuring my lessons a bit as well.  We will still be doing exploratory learning. I'll be sending them into the jungle, but now I'll give them a bit of a tutorial on how to use the compass.

Teaching needs to be responsive, not just to the needs of the students, but also to what they are willing to do.

I don't like having my room in rows, and I'm going to work to move back to groups by the end of the year.

The transition back into rows was a bit earlier this year than previous years.  I'm not sure if that says more about the students, or more about me.  Reading that post from 3 years ago makes me wonder how much I've changed as an educator in that time.

It also makes me wonder if, as a self-professed "progressive educator," my aversion to having the kids in rows is based anything more than principle.

Being aloof is part of my mysterious nature

1 comment:

  1. Take this for what it's worth, but here is how I have found a balance between the direct instruction students crave and the exploratory struggle that they need....

    We typically cover one big idea a week using a schedule that varies slightly but is typically:
    * Mondays: open ended problem of some sort (often with group white boarding); throw them in the deep end and let them try to swim
    * Tuesdays: direct instruction lecture with notes; let's put some language to what we experienced yesterday
    * Wednesdays: more exploration, this time with the tools we learned on Tuesday (this occasionally takes the form of guided practice but not always); end with 2-3 question formative assessment
    * Thursdays: stations with tasks based on formative assessment results (some reteaching, some extension, etc.)
    * Friday: computer lab day (district purchased individualized program); this time also used for makeups and reassessments

    I know that's more routine and structure than you'd probably like but it's a pretty flexible framework and has struck a good balance for me.


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