I am taking it slowly this year. Taking my time to get to really know my students and taking my time for them to really get to know me. Taking my time to build trust, build relationships and to develop them as learners who can reflect on both their successes and failures.
For example, writing. As I blogged last week, the first writing task they completed was titled ‘All about me’. When I gave these back to them this week, we discussed how when I mark I will not correct their spelling, punctuation or grammar for them but I that will identify paragraphs which they need to re- read and re- edit. We brainstormed why I might choose to do this and jointly came to the conclusions that not only do teachers need a life that is not dominated by marking. But that even more importantly, they must take responsibility for the work they produce.
That is not to say that they are in any way left to their own devices when writing. Any new writing task is begun by a discussion of the writing conventions of that text type. Then jointly we construct a shared document, all the while discussing, editing, adding and correcting as a class. This is followed by individual attempts, which we then jointly deconstruct, adding, editing and improving. As they are writing we pause every now and then to share, either from volunteers or using my name card system. They become used to reading portions aloud to friends, peers, small groups and me. As they share their ideas together we brainstorm better way to craft sentences. Reluctant writers are supported and encouraged and the gifted are challenged to aim higher.
You see I am sure that this will pay dividends as the year progresses and I believe that this will come from trust. My students need to trust each other and trust me. They need to know that no matter what they have written that they are respected as writers. And they need to learn that all writers edit, edit and edit some more, taking it slowly and learning as they do so.
By working slowly now, by pausing, talking, sharing, reflecting and crafting together, they will improve. I am sure they will in the end achieve better outcomes. Outcomes that develop not from racing through a program, not from rushing to complete topics and tasks but from taking it slowly and reflecting as they go.
I too am getting pleasure from a slowly developing craft project. Hand sewing does not come naturally to me, so I am being careful and enjoying watching my cushion develop. Taking it slowly in the pursuit of better.