Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas for Responsive Teaching

This year, PD has looked a little differently in my school board than it has in the past. I had the opportunity to experience a "collaborative inquiry" for literacy that was specific to French Immersion students (and their teachers).

There were multiple foci, it seemed, but one recurring idea that was deeply entrenched in the format of the collaborative planning and teaching cycle was that of teaching in a responsive way.  I expect I'll be dipping into the well of things I learned through that more than once and sharing some thoughts here.

So, what does "responsive teaching" mean? Basically, respond to your students' needs - in the moment. At times, it almost FELT like the goal was to get us used to flying by the seats of our pants (we were not allowed to plan anything ahead of time, were discouraged from bringing FI resources along with us to the planning sessions, plus for the three-part lesson that we planned, we only were supposed to plan the minds-on and activity portion of the lessons, leaving the wrap-up or consolidation portion of the lesson plan for after we had delivered the lessons and gauged how it went. ...... I'm sure the REAL intention was to help some teachers move away from just following what's pre-scripted in a purchased teaching resource pack.)

I never feel great about flying by the seat of my pants, even if I don't work from a script, so I had an idea to make myself more comfortable.

A folder of tools that I can rely on for switching gears in the middle of a lesson if things aren't going exactly as anticipated makes me feel a lot more effective as an educator. Sure, I know lots of instructional strategies and can differentiate my lessons in a number of ways, but somehow, knowing I've got a few tricks already photocopied and ready to use at my finger tips helps me to feel more prepared and professional.

I call it my "Responsive Teaching Folder" and it sits within a magazine holder, right next to the one for Emergency Supply Lessons.

Here are a few ideas for items I've placed in mine:
  • exit ticket slips ( a couple of variations)
  • brainstorming or mindmapping templates.
  • blank T-charts
  • Venn diagrams
  • SVA charts (or what is known as a KWL chart in English)
  • Conversation dice templates
Of course, there are a ton of other strategies I use (think-pair-share, and thumb temperature checks come to mind right away) that just aren't going to go into a folder as a photocopied paper. However the Responsive Teaching Folder just reminds me that I already DO use these strategies, and am accustomed to switching gears mid-lesson when my learners clearly need that change.

I'd love for you to leave me a comment below if you have other ideas for things to include in my classroom folder. Be sure to visit some of the other Bright Ideas blog articles in this month's link up as well.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Classroom Management Tip for the Class Lawyer

Classroom management... just as important for the success of any French teacher as the teacher's fluency! What are the things that drive YOU crazy in class and suck up your teaching energy? I'd always prefer to focus on teaching rather than dealing with situations, but of course they come up regularly, and I try to use them as teachable moments as well.

Here's an idea to help squash the classroom junior lawyer, which is one of my pet peeves. You know that child who simply MUST speak up on behalf of his or her friend when you ask another student to stop fooling around, or to focus on their work? Avez-vous un "avocat de classe"? Certainly I want to respect my students' perspectives and have them feel that their voice matters. That should not derail the entire class though, and I feel that learning how to advocate for themselves, or for others, needs to be done in a respectful and diplomatic way. That's an important lesson for them in becoming future engaged citizens, right?

Have them make an appointment to come discuss their concerns with you outside of class time. Do it right within your plan book, agenda, or scheduling tool within your handheld computer (aka iPhone, android or tablet). If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to carve out time for and to phrase properly! This could be during lunch, recess, or after school... whatever works in your case.

I'd love for you to share here what other strategies have worked for you.

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