I have been an elementary teacher for 10 years so what I know is all about the elementary. I’ve moved up to the big time now. I have grown up and become a sixth grade middle school teacher. Having never taught in a middle school, my first instinct was that I needed to change how I taught. Truly, that meant I was changing myself. After a short couple of weeks, I came to the realization, with the help of my new colleagues that changing what I know how to do best is not beneficial to me or my students.
In my mind the sixth graders would be all grown up, compared to the 4th grade that is. After reflection and proof of going back to my true self as a teacher, I have realized they are still kids. Yes, it may sound funny that I thought they should be all grown up, but until you make a significant change it’s hard to know what things will be like. It was for me anyway.
At the beginning of this week, I returned to school determined to be the teacher that I have always been, and the truth of it is, I think I have come further with my students in four days than I had in two weeks! For starters, I introduced them to the classroom economy. If you think for one second they are too old for that, well you may want to reconsider :). Every one of my students is excited about our new found economy. They love the idea! Allowing them to contribute ideas on ways to spend their hard earned cash and what they feel is a fair price has allowed them to feel ownership. It has been a great experience for me as well as for them.
This one is a hard one to admit, but here it is. I felt myself falling victim to seat work, take notes on this, copy that. Yes, I did and I’m not happy in what I was thinking. I am a cooperative learning teacher, as you all know by now. All this sitting and writing was not working for me, and my students were b-o-r-e-d. Looking back on it, I don’t know who was more bored; me or my students. Yikes!!
Yesterday was another big change for us. We began rotating to different stations, as we like to call them. This is a work in progress and something I plan on reflecting on over the weekend. I’m not completely convinced that this is the route I want to stick to, but I will figure it out. That is what I do! I don’t give up. I try and try again until I can find a way to fix it.
To sum up my ramblings, my sixth graders reaction to something I thought was too elementary has proven me wrong. These kids are just that. They are kids, and these kids want to interact with me and each other just as much as they did when they were in elementary.
Here is to new beginnings but not the changing of myself as a teacher!