Thursday, October 23, 2014

Getting Pummeled by First Graders

Sometimes being a teacher makes me feel like Rocky Balboa in the 14th round.  If you don't recall, Rocky would usually get his ass kicked for 14 rounds and look like he was about to be knocked out completely by his vastly superior opponent.  He would have his gloves up and take punch after punch, getting knocked down and struggling back to his feet only to get pummeled some more. 

That was me yesterday afternoon.  Round 14.  

Here is a link to Rocky getting worked over in case you are unsure what I am talking about: Rocky

I think of Rocky in moments like that because I have to believe that I too will come back in the 15th round and through my courage and tenacity, emerge scarred but victorious.  I have to believe that or I would probably just quit and go work at Starbucks.  I am sure making fancy coffee is harder than it looks but it has to be easier than wrangling 26 first graders.

Let's hope today is round 15.  

Yo Adrian! I did it!

"But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward."  -Rocky

Thursday, October 2, 2014

More Recess = Happy and Energized Kids

In my last post Time for MORE Recess, I argued that my students needed more recess.  Since then I have worked with my grade team and school leader to rework the schedule to add a 10 minute morning and a 10 afternoon recess in addition to our 20 minute recess at the end of the day.  It has only been a week since I began the new breaks, but I have noticed significant differences with my

The first change I noticed was that the students are simply more happy.  They smile more and argue less.  I knew that giving my students more free time would make them happy in the moment but I am thrilled by how that translates into being more kind to one another throughout the day.  It is not all flowers and rainbows, but it is so much more peaceful.

The other thing that I noticed was that the students have a ton more energy- especially in the last hour of class.  This a huge difference from the kids falling over and nodding off during lessons.  I am spending less energy on management and pacing my lessons quicker.  And the bottom line- I see more kids engaged and meeting the learning objectives.

I am very happy with the changes I see in my students.  However, I can't say that I don't miss those 20 minutes of instruction.  It is really hard to cut down lessons and independent practice to make room for the breaks.  I have to keep repeating my mantras- Less is More and Know When Enough is Enough.   There is a constant urge to cram more and more in.  The reality is that we need to slow down to teach less, and teach deeper.

One of the things I love most about my school is that my school leaders empower teachers to be leaders.  They listen to our feedback and then expect us, the teachers, to act to do what is best for kids. It is a great place to teach and grow as a professional .  I couldn't be more proud of where I work.

Love to hear you thoughts on recess and education, feel free to post a comment!