Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Day in the Life of an Enrichment Teacher

One thing I love about my job as the enrichment teacher is that each day is full of learning and is different than any of my previous days teaching.  Sometimes I pause at the end of a day and marvel at all that I have gotten a chance to learn and do. Today was one of those days.  I began my morning with a professional development session with some of my teaching peers.  I had the chance to hear what others are working on and was inspired by school wide engineering challenges (watch out RES, because after our talk now I want to do a school wide cardboard building challenge!!) 

Next a teacher friend from another district came and helped me to install a harmonograph in the art room so that RES students can create.

As students smiled their way into the building I prepared my room for a morning of robot making with third graders.  I also set up a voting booth so we could vote for the name of our new classroom cougar mascot. In third grade students are being creative as they build with many materials to design 2D robots with 3d features.  This project is excellent in itself because of the collaboration and creativity, but it is even better because our long term goal is to make these robots light up when we begin our collaborative study of electricity in January.  And we had an excellent discussion about the importance of voting if you would like your voice heard...and the idea that voting gave every student an equal opportunity to make a class decision.(This was a memorable discussion for me and I hope one that they will remember in ten years when they can vote!)

My next two classes were unique this week as school wide we are participating in an Hour of Code. I am lucky to be collaborating with teacher/librarian Mrs. Redford to make sure every student at RES gets a chance to code.  Our first coding group was fourth graders.  They were excited, but they also had questions about why coding was important.  I love that our classrooms can be a place where students question why we are doing something.  There is so much power and learning that happens in respectful dialog.  Students worked through coding tutorials and wrote upwards of 100 combined lines of code.

Next I went to the cafeteria for my duty as a lunch monitor.  I am there to make sure lunch runs smoothly, but the part I like is chatting with second graders.  In this environment I often hear about the things that they are most enjoying about school, and it gives me a chance to understand them better.  We have also been sharing Knock Knock jokes, and I am building up quite a bank of good ones.

After lunch I got a chance to code with a second grade group.  This group was excited, but once we started coding many students became discouraged.  This was the youngest grade that was using a tutorial and it was challenging....but they did not give up and about half way through kids were coming up to me telling me how it was hard, but good, or hard, but they liked figuring it out.  To me this is great learning --- and to have them vocalize that tension between a challenge and success and failures was awesome.

Next I visited kindergarten.  Students had requested that we build, and so I came with lots of boxes and tape.  We worked in a small group to design a space rocket house.  Students worked together with joy for forty minutes, and when I left were making plans for additions during their next work opportunity.

My last class of the day was first graders. We are continuing our study of community, and today we were learning about a community helper we were interested in. We were lucky to have a police officer come in to work with one group, and I learned a lot about how outside community engagement spurs learning.  I also learned that some student groups do not work well together, even if they share a common interest, and I went  back to the teaching drawing board to figure out how I can improve this collaboration for next time.  

Whew!  The school day ended for students with a chance for me to take my group out to their bus...saying goodbye and hearing about tidbits of their day...and then back into the building to meet with special educators and hear ideas for how to better meet the needs of all of the learners in our classrooms.

Everyday is different and everyday is full of great learning.  Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to be a teacher at RES!

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