Thursday, October 2, 2008

Slowing the pace

The beggining of the school year is always a whirlwind of activity, assessment, structures, and routines. We try our best in first grade to start of the year with rigor. The kids are reading and writing from day 1. This past month I feel that I have been rushing my students a little bit too much trying to fit all components of our literacy program into the morning periods. Of course, sometimes they need to be rushed, like when they are cutting out the pictures for Words Their Way (I find cutting to largely be a waste of time) and I get upset if they are not cutting the pictures in strips, lining them up, and cutting four at a time like I showed them (they can actually do that!). Other times, like during Writing and Reading especially, I feel that we need to take our time. When they are rushed, I think we waste more time because I have to stop for management constantly. I also think I lose many of my ELLs when I speak too quickly. I decided to slow things down. From the first instructions of the day (what to take out of your bookbag), I spoke slowly and clearly. During the morning meeting I carefully did some shared reading with them and took time to reflect on the new month of October. My writing workshop was the same. I really took my time speaking and what I noticed was more engagement among the students. I didn't have to stop once during my writing workshop minilesson for management. When they went back to their tables, they were more focused than ever before. We even got to fit in a share at the end. We did an interactive read aloud after writing and then off to lunch.

Despite the fact that I slowed our pace today, I definitely noticed that we were able to get more done than usual. I think there is something to be said for using your time delicately and trying to work with the pacing of the children. When we are in a hurry and stressed out, that energy trickles down to the children and they call out, act up, and tune out as a reaction.

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