Updated: Nov 29, 2019
After being in the classroom for 15 years and teaching all over the country, there are moments I look back and just cringe. I think, "What was I thinking?" or "I can't believe I did that!" I am a huge believer in change and believe that we are constantly growing and evolving. That's one of the things I like about being an educator. There's always something new to learn as we gain more insight into HOW children learn.
Deciding on one cringe-worthy moment is tough, because let's be honest, there's more than one. I can still remember one of my first observations where I had the students reading Stone Fox. I got them started with a great mini lesson, and then turned them over to read. While my principal watched, I proceeded to grade homework- during an observation- while my students read! I'm mortified to even write this.
Then, I learned that maybe I should confer with my students and actually listen to them read. That was a new idea for me. I then began doing it and can look back at it as a cringe-worthy moment that produced a lot of growth. Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better." That is especially the case here.
Another moment that sticks out to me is when I taught rounding. The challenge with this one is that I continued to do this for a few years. I love a good chant or creative visual, but I completely lost sight of the meaning behind rounding. Instead of focusing on meaning, I used tricks to get students to memorize steps.
I saw that students who were good at memorizing understood the concept, while the students who were unable to memorize struggled with the concept. Those that acted as they understood it really only knew it short term. When we moved onto another concept where they had to apply rounding, like estimation, they completely forgot the rules again.
Then, I learned the power of number sense and number lines. When students understood why numbers round, they begin to create their own rules by seeing the patterns. And really, this is what students should be doing based on the mathematical processes.
All of sudden, students were moving slower through the concept of rounding but were strengthening their counting skills. They had an entry point and knew how to go about solving the problem even if they couldn't remember the steps. I didn't have to rely on a chant, poem or catchy visual. They made sense of the problem.
I'm part of several teaching groups on Facebook, and I'm seeing some of those quick fixes being shared. I'm hoping that by sharing my experience, I can help other teachers avoid those mistakes. Please take a moment to share and help a fellow teacher out!
Don't forget to subscribe to gets lots of FREEBIES on my Member's Page and to check out the resources in my Facebook group: Creating Innovate Thinkers with Jessica Kaminski!