Monday, May 30, 2011

A Learning Community

As we wind down for the year, I am reflecting on the year. Each year, of course, is different, some more different than others.  One thing I love as a teacher is watching a classroom culture develop.  I enjoy helping the children establish their learning environment and taking responsibility for their own learning.  Each year is different because we are a new set of people with different strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and personalities.  Even the weather trends for the year can make a difference in how we proceed through second grade!  What I hope for my students, and the adults who are part of our community, is that we work together, enjoy our time together, benefit from our time together, and grow as learners and people by the time the school year is over.  

After reflecting on this particular year, I am certain we have created a successful learning environment where the children feel they are responsible for their own learning and the learning of others. The children show pride in their own accomplishments while encouraging others to achieve.  

Here are my top ten observations that demonstrate, to me, how I can tell my students have been part of their classroom learning culture: 

Top Ten Ways I Know My Kids are Part of the Learning Culture
  1. They come into the classroom in the morning knowing what they want to accomplish.
  2. They are bringing in information from home to enrich discussions.
  3. I am hearing them ask EACH OTHER, “How did you do that?” and watching as they show each other new skills.
  4. They take the compliments I (and other teachers in the classroom) give the children and use them on each other. 
  5. They critique me, the teacher, even when I don’t ask for critiquing. 
  6. They ask if they can take work home to finish.
  7. They ask if they can do their own, additional, learning at home.
  8. A handful of children are immersed in a book series, passing around the books to one another as they finish, spending much of their day reading the books, completely oblivious to whatever the rest of the class is doing or to the fact that they are not “supposed to” be reading.
  9. I find “water cooler” groups of children discussing some topic at a time when they are supposed to be doing something else.
  10. I observe a group of children rearranging the desks because the way they were set up was not working for the class. (My all time favorite!!)

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