Do you feel your life is a rush? Are you always trying to keep up, keep up with your program, keep up with lesson plans and the curriculum? Keep up with your life? My youngest son has just started year 7 and as part of the transition to high school this week we attended a study skills evening. It was a fairly dry topic for twelve year old boys, so keep them interested as various points during the presentation we had to complete minor activities. One of these involved our sons telling us what they liked and disliked about us as year 7 parents. My son volunteered that he disliked the way I rushed him.
Reflecting on the thought that he feels rushed has made me think about the first three weeks of this term for my class. Just how much are they being rushed too? In an effort to slow the classroom morning rush we have introduced a ten minute ‘homeroom’ time from 8.30 to 8.40 am. In theory this is a wonderful moment to connect, think, reflect and plan for the day or the week ahead. In practice I am finding myself rushing to remind them to post lunch-orders, to find their diaries, to prepare for the first lesson and more. If only I could have thirty minutes ‘homeroom’ time then perhaps my ideas of deep breathing or even classroom yoga could come into play. I reflect that I must find time for this in the ten minutes I have.
The first three weeks also seemed to have rushed past. I know that already we are behind in our English program. Since lessons which on paper take only 45 minutes have taken longer, not to mention discussions about the novel we are reading. I am not actually worried about this in English though, since I know that it is the learning that counts not the finished product. I reflect that I must find time for them to enjoy the process even if we have no product.
In Mathematics however it is a different story. We have this week finished a ‘Place Value’ unit and we must move on. My daily formative assessments using our mini whiteboards tell me I that not every student understands all that I want them too. I know that many of them need more time to truly understand this vital topic. Yet if we allow those students to spend another week exploring ‘Place Value’ in the classroom what will those who are ready to move on do? How can I split my maths program to suit two or even three mini groups? Or perhaps more importantly what will we do with the next topic. I know that in Mathematics learning is incremental, by that I mean it is vital for students to understand what they learn one year in order to build on that learning the next. Yet the curriculum requires us to fit in many topics in a year. To cover many different areas and many different stands. I reflect that I must move on for if I don’t we will almost certainly miss something needed next year. And this worries me.
So what can I do about this need to rush? The need to fit in the learning, to rush through the topics, to rush through the day? I really don’t know. It seems to me a factor of the lives we lead. And although I take time out to slow down, to reflect to plan and to spend time with my family on the weekends, my son still feels rushed. Perhaps the answer is to wake him thirty minutes earlier so that our morning routines are not as rushed. Whether he would agree with this plan though remains to be seen!