How I Found my Teaching Groove

The confessions of an art teacher turned third-grade teacher after a coaching experience:

Wait, teaching third grade is not so different than teaching art after all. I can be ME. And by me I mean who I am as a teacher, a student, a learner, and as a human on this planet. The connections I made have shaped the way I will proceed, and I know I can (actually give myself permission to) adjust and rethink as challenges arise and I overcome them triumphantly.

A few connections:

IDR: I noticed during Individualized Daily Reading (IDR) conferencing that the more proficient readers would immediately refer back to the text during the discussion, using their finger to skim the paragraph they remembered an idea occuring. I noticed my less proficient readers would immediately scan the pictures and images on the page to answer my questions about what they just read. This week I want to observe my on-level readers to see if they use one or both ways to navigate the text. The information will support my planning decisions so that I can increase their reading comprehension, therefore increasing their reading level over time. We will see!

Close Reading: One word can change the prediction or inference a student makes. I like how students were able to make connections to other books we have read as well as the current story. The formative assessments provided support for observations which was invaluable. I was able to see with my eyes what a student knows, and I could get in their head and understand their thinking

Literacy Centers: I was pleased to see successful use of literacy centers based on the Making Meaning (MM) unit. The students were engaged and I was able to do more differentiation of instruction for individual students, which gave me more time to meet each student’s need. Learning how to streamline the MM lesson maximized the learning experience for the students.

Scheduling: To better meet the needs of my students, we worked on adjusting my daily schedule. I moved Being a Writer (BAW) after lunch which resulted in a more effective BAW experience leading to more productivity for the students. Ending the morning with Making Meaning Vocabulary and BAW Skills Practice allowed me to challenge students to use grammar skills and MM vocab in their writing. This schedule enables me to assess their understanding and application across content areas. A good thing! The kids love to use the vocabulary words in their writing.

Teaching strategies and skills: I noticed in MM, the Unit Overview states inferencing is the skill for the unit, although upon closer look text structure, character, plot, and setting were also the focus of the five-week unit. This information allowed me to model to students the importance of text structure in writing a fiction story, which links writing and reading as the author writing the story and as the reader of a story. Communicating and interpreting intent is very important for the comprehension of the story by the reader and for the author to make sure they have communicated all the necessary text structures to create an interesting story. Win-win for both!

I went home after the coaching experience and told my husband, “I taught today, I finally get it.” See, I found my groove and it came from the epiphany that regardless of the curriculum name (DSC, Common Core, etc.), good teaching practices are good teaching practices. I realized the DSC Teacher Manuals provide the planning and preparation support, the time consuming part. We are now able to focus on the students and their learning. Now my prep time can be used more effectively to get familiar with the books of each week and coordinate literacy stations to complement the research-based, DSC information and apply it.

I am so excited to see what my journey holds as the weeks progress. Encouraged and optimistic, I know that with hard work, smart choices, and continuous reflection, I can overcome anything that comes my way!