What My Grade 5 Grads Taught Me

Well it is that time of year again when the small group of students that I teach set to graduate. My first set of students from this school are set to graduate soon from grade five and go on to their next school. Even though I am on maternity leave I feel that it is important for me to say good bye to these kids. I will miss them for many reasons and of course there are some things I will not miss.

Here are some of the things I learned from this group of students.

1.  Consistency is Key

Planning routines, setting up routines, practicing them, and reinforcing them is so important. When students know what you want and can predict your responses and actions it makes life easier for you and them.

2. Homework Sucks

I don’t like it any more then they did. My homework was generally self directed learning. It was encouraged and rewarded. However it was not assigned, marked, or corrected.

3. Projects are awesome

This group was like a dog with a bone. They loved projects and in response I have begun to explore inquiry and project based qlearning. I only hope to get more effective at this type of teaching.

4. Technology Rocks.

We blogged, connected, explored, and communicated. Having a class website was invaluable as a tool to communicate and share ideas. When used as a one way street to share information with parents it works. Boundaries are VERY important so as not to be connected all the time and teachers should be very careful about the tone and type of content shared. Stay away from opinion, negativity, or directing action.

5. Making Connections

Get to know the students personally and take an interest in who they are.  It helps to understand what makes them tick.

6.  Work with the Power

In every group of students there is a power structure and a social dynamic. Know who the leaders are and use them to help. Turn negative leaders into positive allies. Understand who has no power and work to balance the scales.

7.  Let them save face

Try to never address a child for their negative behaviour in front of their peers. Always try to talk one on one and remove the offending child from the group. Yes of course that’s hard. However have a space like a time out spot In Your room where they can go. If you can’t address the behaviour you want stopped find the nearest well behaving children and reward them.

8. Boys are different

In a class full of boys you see very quickly how you must change your teaching practices to meet the needs of boys. Flexibility, differentiation, and allowing them to move is very important.

9. Have high expectations

Want a good class well then expect a good class and don’t allow an alternative. If you want  them to raise their hands then never answer a child who calls out and do not talk over them. Command and demand their attention but do t expect what they can’t do. A ten year old can’t sit for an hour and listen to you lecture so dont do it. If you respect their limitations and expect the best you will be happy with the results.
Good bye to my first class from this school may I have taught you as much as you taught me.

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