This 1/2 week back at school has been the most relaxing, stress-free week I believe we've had all year. No hurrying from one subject to get to the next one. Time to take bird walks when the moment presented itself. And with the lack of hurrying, an openness and eagerness began to appear that is often hidden away in our usually daily classroom rush---locked away because we don't have time to properly pursue it. It 's been so great, I almost dread getting back into the swing of our full schedule next week.
I actually said as much to the aide in my classroom today and she agreed. And as I sat pondering the difference in this 1/2 week verses our normal routine it comes down to one main thing: Less is More. What I mean by that is simply this:
Because I wasn't so focused on finishing up one thing only to cram in 10 more, we all were able to really dig deep into what was being learned at the moment. We had TIME to look up strange words encountered in a read aloud. (See Adventures in Story Time). When the kiddos didn't understand the grammar lesson, there was time to reteach, explain, and make sure they had it before moving on. We spent time discussing items on our study guide; really discussing them, not just me glossing over them quickly. And, by some miracle, not once did I feel pressure to "try and fit it" more learning activities.
I think that's where so many of us are going wrong: Trying to cram in as much as absolutely possible, without fully covering or delving deep into the most important things. In my case, my current schedule includes:
Reading Intervention Group
2-3 Small Groups for Reading
Whole group reading lesson
Math Intervention Group
Daily Read Aloud
The difference for me this week was the absence off my small groups, not as much writing and spelling, and no basal story to be responsible for. I'm not saying these things aren't important, only questioning the necessity of using 1/2 of my allotted time during the day on Language Arts. Something's gotta give, because we sure have had a great week of learning. I'd hate to loose that just to "fit in" more.
I think less big box teaching can equal more authentic learning opportunities.