Monday, November 14, 2011

Let Go of Your Traditional Thinking!

I’m often asked this question, “Where do I begin as a teacher to make change?”
There are two fundamental considerations. You must first examine your image of the child and then, in order to change, you must be willing to rid yourself of traditional assumptions and roles. You must have no fear and you must be willing to relinquish control.
So let go of the familiar and believe in the competencies of young children. You are there to support their journey in learning; to be a co constructor of knowledge. You must challenge them, listen to their theories about how the world works; assist them to construct, deconstruct and reconstruct. Each challenge, each new discovery gives the child new insight.
Calm your environment. When I visit Kindergarten classrooms I am overwhelmed by the chaos on the walls. Little of what I see speaks of the children who occupy the classroom.
My eyes are confused by the colourful bulletin board paper lined with fancy thematic edges. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about! Then there’s the classic ABC strips, the good old calendars with the pre cut umbrellas, and suns; the number strips, the pre cut jars full of bugs and who knows what else. And of course they are all hanging metres above the child’s eye view.
Don’t worry about that because even if they were down low the children would rarely look at them, especially if they’ve been hanging there for a full school term.
Now look around your room. Does the children’s work look all the same? Twenty four perfect pre cut poppies all filled with the same pre cut tiny squares; paintings that are made with pre cut sponges; work sheets; labelled centres just in case the children are not capable of figuring out where that doll centre might be or where those crayons would go. Need I say more?
Strip down those boards. Make your background an off white; remove the edging. You don’t need it. Now fill those boards with authentic work; children’s representations of themselves; a family tree; a bouquet of daisies; a child’s theory on how emails travel. The possibilities are endless. Are you worried that the children won’t learn to read and write if you don’t post work sheets or alphabet strips?
Have no fear! Take a walk through the park and find things that begin with the letter A. Bring them back to the classroom, document your journey, post it, display it, live it and they will learn it.
Now you are ready to begin an exciting new adventure

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