Started with three questions, but not anymore!
Everything goes back to meaningfull education. I know it is depending on a lot of things, for example time, space, area and population, Knowing a lot of schools in the Netherlands and see schools over here makes me wonder what similarities and differences I see. Thinking of all the positive things I have seen, I am trying to make a summary of good education of a primary school.
Whatever the system is, the teacher is and will always be important in the process of development of children. So the principal/board should make priority of the development of teachers. Those teachers have to be passionate about education. Like in progressive schools, teachers give instruction about the excercise. Children put in different ways in to work that they show and prove they are capable of making those exercises. Instructions have to be short and inspiring, so children are challenged to show their way of thinking and making this exercise. They are teaching others how they thought and made a succes of this excercise.
Less is more. On the schedule should be less lessons, but more inspiring combined lessons. For example: teachers a telling a story about a historical event. Children are listening to a fascinating story of history. The teacher ask questions about the history and book. Children are unconsciously practicing listening skills and history. After a few chapters, the teacher is asking about the characters. Who are they, what are they doing and what is the relation? Also can there be a prediction what is going to happen. At this point, the children are learning about language and how they can make all those things visual. After that, the children are going to sit somewhere in class and take their own reading book. They are going to visualize who their characters are, what they are doing and what the relation of the characters is. After this lesson, which continues the next lesson, the children have learned about characters. They have to wright a story with some clear characters.
At this example, many subjects and skills are combined in a fascinating way which challenges children on their own level of capability.
By combining subjects, skills, materials and work forms, makes that children are motivated and willing to show what they are capable of. The teacher has meetings with children during the excersize. By showing, proving and teaching others, children get their feed back and teachers can see on which level children are thinking and operating. The process should be documentated in portfolio’s, so everybody can see the progress.
As said I believe there are great opportunities by combining subjects with materials and skills. I think it’s a wonderfull idea if every class has two teachers who prepair, teach, evaluate and reflect about the lessons, children and their own process. It ensures teachers are working and learning together. It makes time and space to conversate with children about their process, development and way of thinking.
What does this mean for me as teacher?
I have seen wonderfull and inspirating things that I would like to try in my own class. Good education depents on location, populations, possibilities and time. So I have to think what is possible and what is good education for my class at this time. At this point I will start by changing the schedule. Subjects and skills wil be more combined. Children have to show and prove their way of thinking. The next stap will be that children are presenting (teaching others) their way of thinking. By working this way, children will be challenged on their own level and way to perform. I will differentiate in diffucylty, amount and expectations.
This asks from me a lot of preparation and thinking of what I want to achieve, why I want this and what I can, may and will expect from children. I also have to make, at least once a day, time to reflect on the lessons, my way of teaching/asking questions and the children.
It is important for me that I have clear what I want and why I want this. This way of working, thinking, teaching and learning is different of ‘our standard’. So I have to breach excisting norms, which I am willing to do. To achieve that, I also have to show, prove and teach others that this is a fantastic way of working. For the kids, for me, but also for everyone in our community.
What does this mean for me as person?
It takes time. Time which I have to award myself. I have to take small steps to reach te big steps, so I have to be patient and have/follow a roadmap. For myself and others I have to make this roadmap and be the inspirator. I will ask collegues to observate my way of teaching with two goals: be my criticall friend, so tell me what you see, experience and feel. How can I improve in the benefied of the development of children. By doing this, colleagues will be informed and inspired by what they are seeing and what this can mean for their lessons.
It will take effort and time, but it can ensure I can teach the way I would like and the children deserve. It will give me a lot of satisfaction, so I am excited about trying all of this!