Last weekend, I bought a puzzle at Sam’s Club…
I chose the Paris puzzle because my family, on my dad’s side, hails from France.
As I worked on the puzzle one night this week, I was struck by how closely I was having to examine each piece to properly place it.
For instance, I noticed the brown rectangle in the middle of the following piece.
I knew exactly where it needed to go…
This puzzle is difficult, so paying attention to subtle color shadings and shapes are very important…
It won’t surprise you that my thoughts naturally turned to my classroom.
This year, I’ve become even more metacognitive in my teaching.
I’ve mentioned how I’ve taught my students to “think about their thinking.”
Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, because this is a strategy that I’ve been noticing myself using more and more as well.
This simple task of putting my puzzle together…noticing that I’m noticing the details…made me reflect on my teaching practices.
One of the things that I didn’t do well my first couple of years in the classroom was to notice the small details.
Students walked in and out of my room, and because I was too busy doggy-paddling my way through each day, I scarcely had the energy to, and this will sound contradictory, slow down and pay attention to the small things.
Last year, I began learning how to do so.
This year, I think I’ve become much more adept at it.
I know that some of what I’m about to say is repetitive, for I’ve been reflecting about my teaching ever since I dove into this profession four years ago, but I can’t help it.
Teaching is much more that spouting off facts that you want your students to memorize.
Teaching is even more than developing skills.
The foundation of teaching is about making connections with your students.
You can’t do that unless you pay attention to the details of their lives.
Your classroom will never form a complete picture unless you carefully fit each piece (i.e., each student) in.
In fact, lesson plans need to be made in such a way that they fit into each student’s specific-ness, for lack of a better word.
There are nearly sixty students who walk into my door each day.
Can you imagine the number of conversations that I overhear every week?
While I don’t process everything the kids are saying to each other, there are a lot of things I do pick up on and tuck away.
I’ve become better at remembering the small details that differentiate my students from one another…specific home-life situations, particular likes and dislikes, habits, good and bad.
I use my knowledge to weave together the fabric that becomes the background for our learning environment.
Ultimately, by noticing small things…a new haircut, highlights in a young lady’s hair, a new pair of shoes…and commenting on these things…I build my students’ self esteem and show them I care.
This year feels as though it’s been, for the most part, one continuous string of connections.
I’m sure that’s why I’ve smiled through most of the school year.
I would venture to say that most of my students have too.
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