I’m very aware that by writing about these things the majority of my friends (yes, there are a huge percentage of my friends who are teachers) are reading and saying ‘ya, what else is new’. But I’m going to keep writing…because you didn’t and it’s what I’m thinking about these days.
Over the last several months, while doing pleasantly mindless jobs in the classroom, I have been trying to revamp the whole school system. It’s an involuntary reflex. I can’t help it. Try as I might though, I have nothing profound to add. I keep trying to create some elabourate system.
We all know that children (people) learn and develop at different paces, what I didn’t realize is how terribly frustrating it is for the children on both ends of the spectrum. It effects their behaviour so immediately. Starting about 2 months ago the super bright kids started to act out. They could not sit still and listen. It’s as if their limbs had minds of their own and even if they wanted to behave (and I think most of them genuinely do) they could not. Their limbs disengaged from their brain and reached out and poked someone, or threw something or scribbled on a neighbour’s paper. Likewise at this point, those still struggling with things that others are mastering are getting noticeably left behind. In many cases (not all) their struggles lack the aggression of the bright ones. They’re deflated. Their aggression often turns inward and their views of themselves take a sad turn. I hate seeing this.
This is why my mind keeps trying to develop a different way. But of course there isn’t a way, at least not a way that can process classrooms full of children in bulk. Maybe it’s done somewhere. If it is I guarantee, it’s expensive (and if you’re going to argue homeschooling with me here…yes, I’m a fan, but no, it’s not cheap, especially if you add to the curriculum costs your chosen, but put aside, career and include the loss of that salary as an expense, which you’d pretty much have to do).
I have this vision of a fluid system, where kids can move up when their ready, so those mastering kindergarten in March can move on then and sink their teeth into something new and challenging. There would be kids moving in and out all the time so it wouldn’t be as obvious to the ones who don’t move on until November of the following year…if you follow my thoughts. I’m picturing something like the walkways in an airport that move everyone in the same direction but some step onto the fast track while others walk the normal pace and still others linger on at particular intervals until they can confidently move on.
Curriculum developers everywhere just spontaneously combusted. Or more likely said a collective “Pfft, ya right” and rolled their eyes. I know, I know. Just wishing out loud. My hat is off to teachers who know this dilemma well and who deal with it year after year. You are incredible to me. I have a new appreciation for the task at your hand.
Let me brag about our little dollies though, BOTH the quickly developing and the struggling.
I have reviewed the what-you-should-know-by-the-end-of-kindergarten material for Ontario and I think it’s pretty amazing that our group is keeping up, some of them mastering these skills and many more. Amazing to me because it is their second language. Not only second language, but keep in mind that their mother tongue is Arabic which is a different alphabet written from the right side of the page to the left. There are absolutely NO similarities between the two languages! To me, that makes even the most struggling students bright little stars. I wish there was some way of convincing them of that.
There are so many life lessons here don’t you think?
1) Respect those who struggle – in many ways they’re smarter than you are and know things that you’re just not grasping yet.
2) Be kind to yourself when you struggle – your comparisons likely aren’t fair or accurate.
3) If your behaviour is off track maybe you’re just bored – don’t push those around you and make life difficult for them, push yourself, give yourself a challenge, find new mountains to climb – preferably ones that are exhilarating to you!
4) Insert your thoughts in the comment section – what else can we learn from this?
With these skills being developed day after day and year after year, they’re all going to be masters of 2 languages and influenced by many more cultures as they benefit from being taught by teachers of many nationalities. What global citizens they’ll be!
Here are the little cherubs all dressed up and singing with such joy and enthusiasm at their year end concert. (Which is also a good 5th life lesson….when in doubt, when frustrated or bored, sing and dance).