Yesterday, I grew my thinking about being a teacher in a self-contained classroom. Today I plan to repeat this exercise by taking the stance of being a teacher who teaches many classes of students and not all subject, the departmentalization model.
I like the idea of being departmentalized as a classroom teacher. In other words, I like teaching reading and writing. I’m realizing that over the past 8 years, the majority of my time has been spent on getting better at teaching literacy. For example I’ve attended summer institutes and I earned my National Board in Literacy. This is giving me the idea that all that knowledge I have, shouldn’t be limited to helping just one classroom of students. For example by departmentalizing, I could reach more kids using what I know. To add on, I have a ways to go to be an OK math and science teacher. I’m not harming the kids but I’m realizing that I need so much more time spent learning how to teach these subject well. I’m realizing there is only so much time and a better use of it might be to use what I already know well and teach literacy. An example of this was last year. I taught 5th grade writing. I was able to focus just on writing. I planned with the 4th grade teacher and together we pushed each other to teach the writing process through many units of study ending each unit with publishing parties. My 5th graders wrote LOTS and I was proud of what I helped them accomplish. Looking back on this gives me the idea that when a teacher really knows a subject and feels comfortable with it, the teacher can help her students soar. On the other hand, this year I have tried to make math exciting and fun and rigorous. But it is very time consuming. What surprises me about this is that after 23 years as a teacher, I still have so much to learn. For example after all this time, as I look back, so much of my time has already been spent teaching literacy – 6 yr as a K teacher which is a big literacy year, 5 years teaching 4th all subjects, 12 years as a Reading Specialist (all literacy!) and one year as a 5th grade writing teacher… What surprises me as I list the years and my focus is that I shouldn’t be surprised that I still struggle to teach non-literacy subjects. This is giving me the idea that maybe I should push to ask my administration if there is a spot for me to use all I know about literacy and teach just those subjects. Many people think that elementary school is the time to teach the whole kid and those kids deserve one teacher devoted to them. But now I am wondering if the expertise of the teacher shouldn’t also be valued and utilized? To add on, I have loved the flexibility of my self-contained schedule and I have loved knowing one group of kids really well. Yet, I wonder if they would be stronger mathematicians with another and if more of the 3rd graders would be stronger readers and writers if I had the chance to guide more of them. Many people think that classrooms should be self-contained in Elementary school. But I think we should be open to many possibilities and not ignore the strengths of the teachers as we staff a school.
Again, I started this piece with a stance and the writing prompts I talked about in my #23post open on my computer. When my hands stopped typing, I glanced over, picked a prompt, typed it and kept typing. Once finished, I went back and highlighted the prompts used.
Now that I finished yesterday and today’s writing, I clearly see this is an issue with 2 sides!
I can’t wait to see what I’ll be teaching next year, in the next 10 years.