Teaching With Intention: Beliefs and Practices

Welcome back for the second chapter of our book study! This chapter was deep and really had me reflecting. 

The only way that we can have the ideal classroom that we dreamed about in chapter one is if we understand our core beliefs about teaching and align our practices to match these beliefs. Miller challenges teachers to research and reflect to come up with their own list of core beliefs. 

I spent lots of time thinking about my classroom beliefs and I came up with five that I feel truly define my core classroom values. I may add or change these over time!

I am striving to create a student led classroom where students have power. This goes against my OCD tendencies so it is not easy. I want to help students to be self sufficient. Therefore, I allow my students to go to the bathroom when they need to. Students are allowed to choose their own reading material and have choice when it comes time for games or centers. 

I give my students the freedom to get up from their seats to get materials and supplies whenever they need to. I provide an organizational system for classroom supplies, but expect students to maintain cleanliness and order. This is not just MY classroom. It is OUR classroom.

This type of freedom is only possible when students feel trusted and safe. A classroom community must be established from the very beginning. Students must be taught how to communicate with one another so that everyone's ideas are respected. This takes lots of modeling and practice. Once the community is established students will feel more open to offering their opinions and ideas even if they are wrong! The colaboration will benefit every student in the classroom.

Students who set their own goals are more likely to meet the goals! At the beginning of every quarter, my students write their behavior and academic goals for the quarter. They keep them in their data folders so that they are seen regularly.

Throughout he quarter, students graph different pieces of data that help them to see their progress towards the goals they set.

At the end of the quarter, I like to meet with each student for just a few minutes to discuss their goals and what steps they took to meet those goals. We also talk about how they might change their goals for the next quarter. I let the student lead this conversation rather than telling them what I think! (Super hard!!!)

I also believe that students will be more motivated to reach the goals that they set if they are celebrated. I use brag tags in the classroom to celebrate academic and behavior growth. Students should be encouraged to be proud of their accomplishments!

You can find my data binder for 2nd grade HERE and for 3rd grade HERE. You can find my brag tags HERE.

I use the whole brain teaching strategies in my classroom. They allow students to move, talk, listen and laugh. My favorite part of whole brain teaching is the Teach Okay strategy. I have my students teaching each other half a dozen times per lesson. They love it because I am giving them permission to talk on a regular basis. Plus, they are saying what they heard and hearing it again from a partner. They use the hand gestures that they saw me use and they giggle. Do you let your student laugh in class? Laughing releases endorphins that help to increase memory. Times that you were having fun are some of the easiest memories to access! So let them laugh! 

I assess my students on a daily basis. This does not mean that I am giving them a test every day. I actually give as few formal tests as possible. I learn the most by observing my students each day. Small group time is my favorite time for assessment. While students are playing with manipulatives, working in their interactive notebooks, discussing or reading- I am learning so much about them! I use these assessments to plan my future lessons, interventions and enrichment. I wrote yesterday about how I use interactive notebooks and mastery checklists to keep track of my informal assessment data. You can read that post by clicking HERE.

Sometimes  Usually in the midst of standardized testing, long IEP meetings, unreasonable expectations, and mounds of paperwork, I forget what a privilege it is to be a teacher! Parents are allowing us to spend this precious time with their children. They have entrusted us with loving, encouraging and challenging their child. Parents can never get this time back. So cherish those kiddos! Even the most challenging one. He probably needs it the most!

I will admit that writing my beliefs was not too difficult. The tough part will be making sure that all of my  classroom practices align with my beliefs. When the practice and the belief do not align, we need to decide if we need to change the practice or the belief. 

Miller suggested having a notebook and spending a few minutes reflecting on what you learned each day while teaching. I LOVE the idea! It might be a little scary to write about those times bad teacher days! But just like I want my students to learn from their mistakes, I must also be willing to reflect on my both the good and the bad. I think I will learn a lot about myself as a teacher. Will you take this challenge with me? 
Credits: Erin Bradley, Teaching Superpower and KG Fonts

Grab my notebook cover for free HERE. (I printed mine at 85% to fit on a composition book.)