Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday SOL How much can you change?

This is a Tuesday Slice of Life for Two Writing Teachers
Check out their website for many more reflections on teaching.


My Teaching Resident worked with a small group of students to race cars in the hallway today, using this profound interest of theirs to cultivate curiosity and understanding about measuring distance.  This lesson was my idea, and one that was unsettling to her.  Her own educational experience has been far more traditional - teacher-led instruction, much memorization of facts, working at tables. This idea - learning math by racing cars? - was a huge, amazing step for her. 

I have been searching for ways for her to more fully experience children driving their own learning. (No pun intended! Well, maybe it was.)

She watches/observes me, but, ultimately, the best learning is experiential - "letting go" in a lesson of your own.

Her mentor observed as she worked, giving her feedback in between small groups…there was no need for me to be there, too.

I was able to get a small glimpse from my classroom window that peeks into the hallway:

I was so tempted to be out there with them,
to hear the children's enthusiasm,
to see their engagement,
to watch the fun. 

A teacher friend says her principal insists "Don't expect any radical changes - one's teaching style can only be changed about ten percent in any given year… and that's when the teacher has a strong desire to make the change."

I wonder about change.

How much can you change your very instincts?

How can you do something that is so different from how you yourself learned? 

How do you find the courage to attempt something all new?

I suspect my Teaching Resident is often in a state of disequilibrium.

I am watching her change so, so, so much more than ten percent.

Today, I saw a huge smile come over her face,
seeing children race down the hall after their cars,
intent on measuring how far the vehicles had gone.

Here's the note that she shared with families about the experience:

The Big Cats tested cars to see which ones could go the furthest. Children were introduced to the concept of measurement and comparison from this activity. Once the car raced down the ramp and stopped, children used a piece of tape to mark where the car stopped and compared the distance with each other to see which car went further. Also, we talked about how we could adjust the 'slope' of the ramp to make the car go even further. We used different types of measurements including yardsticks and big blocks to measure the distance. The Big Cats practiced counting, measuring, and following directions.

It is extraordinary to watch her metamorphosis.


  1. Thanks for sharing this observation of your Teaching Resident. it got me thinking about change and how we help those in our profession change. I work with 2 teachers right out of college and one watches, tries, and has grown and changed into a stronger teacher this year. The other, not so much. As you, I wonder about change...

  2. I have an assistant who is new, new, new with this class I've taken over, & it is a struggle. He too has never had the experience of letting go, & seems to need to manage. You've given me somewhat of an idea of how much to expect, that 10% perhaps. I love that your work with your resident is blossoming-ah, spring!