Encouragement at the end of the year

I’m continuing to blitz my way through a novel with my beginning class. I am delighted by what they’re showing me at this point. I am also doing a spoken kind of embedding with the lion story in that group, so as to add in the last of the structures we hadn’t used much (today’s was “what is happening/what was happening”). One of my level one kids astounded me today because I had started off in past tense (after telling the story first in present tense), and when I asked what happened next–had the mother screamed?–she said that the mother had laughed. That was a past-tense, reflexive verb that she nailed without thinking about it. She had no idea that she had done anything wonderful. One of the other kids asked, “What does [laughed] mean?” and the first one said, “Like [laughs] only it’s already happened.” They’re getting it! They also all used (intermittently) genitive case for possession and dative case for approaching something. It’s a strong reminder to me of why we teach this way. We can explain the grammar when they ask, and call their attention to new endings when necessary, but they learn it by hearing it when they understand.

The kids themselves asked whether we could re-tell the lion story instead of starting a new one, and that also reminded me that kids like to hear things multiple times, knowing that they’re going to understand. And embroidering what they already understand makes it easy for the ones on the edge to hang on. They know we’ll come back to something familiar. Hmm…it’s a good lesson for me!

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4 responses to “Encouragement at the end of the year

  1. MJ–
    Your work this year in keeping this blog and reflecting your work has really helped me. I want to thank you and my other blog leaders for keeping this teaching process in the forefront of my mind. I wouldn’t have kept at it as hard or tried nearly as many things without your honest hard looks at your own process. thank you for a wonderful year of learning. I am so very grateful!

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    • Kate, thank you for your comment. I go back and forth between thinking this is an egocentric thing to be doing (but realizing how much it helps me to reflect) and being fearful that it will “out” me as a teacher making mistakes on a regular basis. (For instance, what if an administrator used some of my bad days against me?) Several of my kids have been very sweet, coming in after what I posted as a horrible lesson and commenting that they liked something I’d thought had bombed. And a couple of kids have helped me revise posts for accuracy.

      I am always surprised that people read, even as I hang on to other blogs for ideas and inspiration myself (checking Martina’s and Laurie’s daily), and I’m grateful to you and others for the inspiration, response and support. I feel connected to others who are taking the same journey this way. Teaching can be a lonely profession, even with all these great kids around.

      Finally, I appreciate that Nathan shares the writing. Whenever he posts, I am set for weeks!

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      • I second the applause for Nathan’s posts. He rocks! And Martina and Laurie. I know that without connecting to all of you through Ben Slavic, I would be teaching in a manner that I don’t think works well.
        You are right about not wanting to be outed as a bad teacher by some post, but the reality is that thoughtful reflecting teachers are rarely bad. I never get enough reflection down for what I am doing. Who takes the time? But I have been so encouraged by the work of you all, that it is a professional goal for next year.
        Thanks for the courage and the encouragement.

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      • And I didn’t mean to leave Ben off my list of daily checks!

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