Teaching With Intention: Your Ideal Classroom

One of my very favorite things to do over the summer is to READ! I love to take the time to read just for the pure pleasure of reading. I read countless books by the pool and late at night in bed. They are usually ver mindless novels. But I also love to take this opportunity to read about the craft of teaching. Summertime always makes me reflective and excited to plan changes for the upcoming school year. This summer, I couldn't decide which book study to join in, so I am doing two!

I had been wanting to read Teaching With Intention by Debbie Miller since last summer. But time really just got away from me and it never happened. So when I saw that Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasbord was doing a study with the book- I was thrilled to join in on the fun!

I have only read one chapter and I am already hooked!
One of the first things that Miller asks readers to do is to close their eyes and imagine their ideal classroom. Is it crazy that I closed my eyes and imagined my own classroom?! I am not saying that my classroom is perfect. Far from it. But I love my classroom!

When you walk in my ideal classroom, you instantly notice the organization. Everything is labeled and in buckets or bins. You won't find stacks and piles of papers. The classroom library is full of books that are neatly organized by series, genre and author. Math manipulative are within reach of the students and clearly labeled so that they are easy to access when needed. Students are reading, playing games with one another and writing. Every student knows what they should be doing and where to find supplies. They are not bothering the teacher. She is listening to a small group of readers who are discussing a chapter in their book. My ideal classroom is one that is organized, on task, and excited about the skills and tasks that they are completing. You can look at the boards and walls and instantly know the focuses for the week. In my ideal classroom students feel important, successful and able to make mistakes. Students are receiving one-on-one attention from the teacher on a regular basis.  When visitors walk into my ideal classroom, I want them to feel like they should grab a book or a game and just join in on the fun.

When Miller described her experience visiting a third grade classroom, I got a little emotional. That classroom sounded so incredible! It sounded like it was student-led (more about that tomorrow!). It sounded like the very reason that we all come to school each day- students were engaged in meaningful learning tasks and enjoying every step of the process. Isn't that what every teacher wants?! It's the DREAM!

I already have a very organized classroom. I am a little OCD about labels and neatness! Math manipulatives are easy for kids to access and they are encouraged to do so.

Teacher resources are put away rather than left in piles on a desk. In fact, I don't have a desk.

I also have an awesome classroom library that was built based on the preferences of my students. I continue to add to and modify the library every year based on the interests of my new group of kiddos.

I spend a significant amount of time training my students  on the goals and expectations of each center in math and reading. Students are very self sufficient  during these times which allows me to engage with book clubs or mathematical practice. I am rarely interrupted.

I felt validated that my classroom is well on its way to being my ideal classroom. Only a few more changes and I am there! (Of course, my vision of an ideal classroom will continue to change so my classroom will always need a few more changes!)

My students are not getting the regular one-on-one instruction and attention that I desperately want them to have! The darn clock always stands in our way! This year I have decided to make it my professional goal to implement daily reading conferences. I wanted to do it in previous years, but I always let it slide after a while. I refuse to allow myself to do that again! I even have a plan. Every day I meet with two different guided reading groups for 30 minutes. Next year, I am going to meet with them for 25 minutes, give them a task for the last 5 minutes and pull one student from the group for a conference. I want to know what book they are reading. What do they think about it? Do they need a recommendation for a new book? I can hardly wait to spend this precious time together! I am currently working on making a binder to keep reflection notes in. Sadly, I can't seem to find it in the mess of end of year things. I will though!!!

When you look around my room, I am afraid you won't know what skills we are working on. :-( You will see our math vocabulary on the wall.

But you won't find anchor charts. I have a challenge and I am hoping that my sweet and resourceful readers will have some ideas for me. I have NO wall space. NONE. I share a classroom. So two teachers have their belongings in just one TINY room. I just don't know where to put anchor charts. And if my partner teacher makes anchor charts, we will have two for every skill. We certainly don't have wall space for this. What would you  do to make sure that student thinking is posted in the classroom with such limited space to work with?

I am also curious about your ideal classroom. What do you need to work on to make your vision a reality?

It is not too late to join in on this book study. Grab the book and share your thoughts on your blog, FB or social media. (#teachingwithintention) Greg announced today that we are going to get to ask the author questions at the end of our book study! How cool is that?!

I'll see ya tomorrow for my second summer book study. It is another winner!

post signature