It's been my second year of second grade and even though I entered the grade with some reservations it has been two of my best years of teaching.
Being in primary has taught me three things: 1) Inquiry learning is amazing; 2) really look at the curriculum when planning and 3) kids are amazing.
As I said above inquiry is amazing. When students are given the autonomy to learn the possibilities are endless. Now I am not promoting that kids are off on their own doing whatever they feel like but that the teacher is always there guiding and asking questions. The teacher has a plan in mind and has mapped out how the standards all fit together. The students are exploring and learning about the concepts.
When students have an opportunity to learn they gain so much more knowledge then if they were just told. Now this does take time but when you look at the curriculum there is that time. Primary is the time to explore, investigate, practise theories and interjections.
Inquiry also builds self confidence, research skills, critical thinking and inferencing skills. Students have to use all faculties to make judgements about what they are learning. It is also about the community and the learning that is happening around them.
LOOK CLOSELY AT THE CURRICULUM
Before coming down to primary I taught junior (4,5) for a very long time. I often thought what is being taught in the primary grades, why do these grades seem so high but I wasn't looking at the expectations close enough.
When I came to primary I had to examine the curriculum very carefully because I had no idea of what to expect. I was shocked at how little was expected of them. It made me realize how primary students were receiving an A but then in junior dropping to B and Cs. There is a huge jump in learning expectations in junior that is not found in primary (possibly another post). However the point is no matter what grade you teach one has to look carefully at the expectations that is expected of them. Map out the learning, map out the questions and the trajectory of those expectations and see where it goes. Remember that expectations are by the end of the year so we have to keep revisiting them.
KIDS ARE AMAZING
We as educators cannot forget this important fact in our profession. If we think that they can't do something then they will never be able to do it. Kids are amazing and will continue to surprise you at ever turn. I had to stop myself a lot this year from saying they're too young or they won't get it. They might not but more often then not they did. Kids are amazing.
These are just 3 of the most important things that I learned this year. What are yours?