This year I have changed roles, and that has kicked the routine and structure I knew for so many years to the curb. I have had to create a new routine, set new structure, and honestly it is very much still a work in progress. I have a feeling it may very well be that way until May! While the change has had me on my toes, it has provided me a great opportunity to reflect on a variety of things. I have had to ask myself a few questions about what really is structure and routine, and what, in the end, comes down to the need to maintain control in the classroom.
On the weeks I see students, 750 students pass through my door. They bring with them a bit of the “old way” things worked in technology, a variety of personal devices with varied operating systems, and often an uncertainty of how things operate in my room. I see students every 3 weeks, and it is to be expected that they are still learning how things work when they come to see me! For as much as they have learned from me, I have equally learned from them. Kindergarteners have taught me that by 1:30 in the afternoon, they really only have about 7 minutes they can give me their utmost attention. No amount of structure or control changes that fact! So here are a few takeaways that I have from the first nine weeks of school.
- Structure means setting up a conducive learning environment and setting expectations. Confusing that with a need to have every class use the same voice level and work as cooperatively and steadily is nothing more than control. Let it go!
- When your gut instinct tells you that kids out of their seats moving around the room is off task, uncontrolled behavior, step back and breathe. Instead observe what is happening and be open minded. Is it the collaboration and partnership adding to the learning experience? If so… Let it go!
- When the unexpected happens, and the plans go out the door, let it go! Learning is a journey. Make the most of teachable moments, take pride in the chaos, and always bring it back for a reflection of the experience before you move on. When students see you embrace the hiccups, keep a positive attitude, and find great instructional moments in even the craziest experience, they take on the same attitude.
While I have had to really work hard on letting go of control, and working toward embracing that in my new role somethings things just don’t go as planned, it has been well worth the experience. We grow the most when we let go of old habits, and get comfortable with a new way of doing things! Is there any better model than that for our students?
Jaime Vandergrift is an elementary technology specialist, experienced educator, presenter and conference planner. Jaime is a co-host of EduVue, an EdReach Network Live Education Show. Jaime is pursuing her EdS degree from the University of West Georgia in Media and Instructional Technology.