10 June 2015

Teaching with Intention: Chapter 2

Hey Friend! Man alive, I love summer! I just love sharing ideas and thoughts with other teachers, and summer gives me more time to do just that!

I'm back this week for Chapter 2 of the Teaching with Intention book study. {You can read about Chapter 1 here.} This week is being hosted by Flying into First Grade, The Primary Gal, and Mrs. Dailey's Classroom!
Teacher beliefs and practices are what make you, YOU as a teacher. Whether you just accepted your job as a first year teacher, you're entering your last year before retirement, or you're somewhere in between...this post is for you!

Considering this chapter is all about beliefs and practices, it seems fitting to discuss what that means.

What are teacher beliefs?
-For me, teacher beliefs are the foundation of every choice I make in the classroom. They are why I wanted to become a teacher in the first place. How I view education, the teaching and learning process, classroom management...in a phrase? My core values as a teacher.

What are teacher practices?
- Teacher practices are the "walk the walk" part. Sure most of us can talk a good game, and have a passion for our field, but do our beliefs align with what we actually do in our classroom? This one is hard. Really hard. In the moment, things happen and choices are made throw the alignment of our beliefs and practices off. And, I am most certainly guilty as charged. It's in the moments we take a step back, and reflect that we usually realize this, and I say that's great because hopefully, we'll learn something, and get back on track!

While reading this chapter, and reading Debbie Miller's 6 beliefs, I found myself shaking my head yes, getting goosebumps, and even saying YES, several times! I certainly don't disagree with her beliefs, and I am confident in saying that those are very consistent with my beliefs. The part that may need work is the practice part.

Here are Debbie Miller's beliefs:
- "Classroom environments are most effective when they are literate and purposeful, organized and accessible, and most of all, authentic."

- "We cannot underestimate the power of our influence --- what we choose to say and do in the classroom profoundly affects the ways children view their teacher, themselves, and each other."

- "Learning is maximized when the lessons I design are purposeful, interactive and engaging, with real world applications."

- "The gradual release of responsibility instructional model, integrated into a workshop format, best guides children toward understanding and independence."

- "Formative, ongoing assessment enlightens and informs my day-to-day work with children."

- "A workshop format based on the elements of time, choice, response, and community fosters active, responsive teaching and learning."

My thoughts:
- Debbie is brilliant, and has spent much time researching, and a YEAR reflecting and changing, and erasing, and creating her beliefs and making sure her practices aligned to them.

- Debbie mentioned that "nothing was sacred" when it came to trying to figure out whether or not her practices were in agreement with her beliefs.

- The hard part is not writing down your beliefs...heck, Debbie already did it for me ;) The tricky part is to spend the time to reflect on whether or not the actions, the practices, match the beliefs.

Debbie asks, "Where’s the evidence of the belief in the classroom? What kinds of things should I be seeing, hearing, doing to support this belief? Where does this practice fit into what I say I value? What studies support this practice?"
Sometimes, this requires you to do something that no one else is doing. Your administration or district might not see things your way. They may have a prescribed set of rules, procedures, routines, systems...whatever, for you to follow. In my first few years teaching, I was terrified to go against the grain, even when I knew in my heart it wasn't what was best for my students, or wasn't something I believed in. It was at this point, that I really had to ask myself what was most important. The answer was simple...my students, and what was best for them!

Since it's summer time for me, I'd love to start the new school year with the mission of making sure my beliefs and practices are aligned...100%. I have a sneaking suspension, that my beliefs aren't going to be what change...it'll be my practices, much like Debbie did. I'd love to revisit this throughout the next school year, to share what'd working, not working, and if and how my beliefs and practices are aligning.

What are your teaching beliefs? What are your teaching practices? Are they in sync? What needs to change?

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