When I had been teaching for around eight years, I agreed to pilot a reading program developed by a professor at Duke University. My Principal was very supportive of  this program and we saw the children flourish as a result of its implementation. Soon I began to get visitors from  all  over the United States and the Central Administration started contacting me about teaching in-service workshops  so that teachers in other schools could learn how to use it. I  enjoyed this opportunity because I was excited about the positive impact the program was having on my students. It also put me in a position to meet teachers in other schools who were conducting in-service workshops on other topics.

One teacher in another school that I came in contact with was known for her make and take workshops. I had seen a lot of the materials she used in a presentation and asked if I could come and visit her classroom. I was always looking for ways to improve my instruction and had been impressed with some of the materials she told us about in her presentation. Along with several other kindergarten teachers, I arranged to take a professional day and come for a visit.

When we walked in, we were impressed by how many games she had made for her classroom. It looked as if it could be featured in a professional magazine. We sat down to watch and it took all of five minutes for us to realize that the children were not allowed to use the materials. She used direct instruction to lecture while she held up her materials. The children sat quietly on the rug or in their seats at tables. All I could think about was how many times a professor in college with a monotone voice had  caused me to lose interest in the lesson. We all learn by doing and the fact that this "model" teacher would not allow the materials to be used by her students floored me. These children were required to sit quietly on the rug or in their seats at tables as she stood at the front of the classroom and "demonstrated"  a game she had made. She was dressed to the nines that day but not once did I see her get down on the floor to interact with the children or even get down on their  level.

Experience has taught me that young children require an intellectually oriented approach where they can  work together in small groups on projects which help them make sense of their own experiences. I find that projects which allow them to observe, experiment, inquire, and examine more closely the worthwhile aspects of their environment benefit them the most. I want them to get excited about learning.

Providing a risk free environment where children are actively involved in their learning is what I have found to be most successful. Games get broken and manipulatives may show wear and tear but they can always be replaced. The opportunity to make a difference in a child's life can't!




8 comments

  1. Theresa Milstein // February 20, 2010 at 8:17 PM  

    I can't imagine having students watch a "game". What about students who need tactile stimulation? Hopefully, there are more teachers like you.

  2. legendswife // February 20, 2010 at 8:56 PM  

    Amen Theresa:) great post.(sigh) I can't imagine having my children watch a game being played. There would definitely be a problem. Great post:) Thanks.

  3. Southern Belle Mama // February 20, 2010 at 9:33 PM  

    Hi! It's always good to meet fellow NC bloggers...and teacher bloggers too! You should definitely enter; you never know what luck you'll have! :)

  4. VKT // February 20, 2010 at 9:45 PM  

    Lol....thanks SBM....Theresa, I love your blog! Yours too Legends!

    Have a blessed day tomorrow all!

  5. Ms. G // February 21, 2010 at 9:29 AM  

    I couldn't agree with you more. Sometimes it seems like there is a Great Divide between the teacher and their students. In my own classroom, I try to create an atmosphere where everyone is learning from each other, including me.

  6. veterankindergartenteacher // February 21, 2010 at 1:22 PM  

    Mrs. G, You sound like my kind of teacher. I look forward to visiting your blog!

  7. Tutor gal // February 21, 2010 at 7:26 PM  

    I was shocked when I read this. All the resources in my class look as if someone gas run over them and that is how I like it. I teach middle school and the same philosophy holds true for older kids as well. It is what we all should be doing. How unfortunate.

    Tutor gal.
    Tutor-gal.com

  8. VKT // February 21, 2010 at 9:18 PM  

    Tutor Gal,

    The saddest thing is that she went on to become an administrator! That was her plan all along!!