The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Making Changes

There are roughly three weeks of school remaining, and I am doing all I can to keep my students motivated and working hard each day as we run down the final stretch.

On the one hand, I have worked hard at establishing some fairly regular routines in the classroom. The boys and girls all know what is expected when we work on literacy or on math. They also know our classroom routines for things like lining up, getting ready for lunch, and going to fine arts.

On the other hand, I am continuing to make changes to what we do and how we do it. I am constantly striving for improvement and I hope that each of the students will do the same. Today I made a change in what we do for our read aloud. Instead of reading a work of fiction, I started to reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln by Carl Sandburg. The biography is highly acclaimed and I thought it would be a good way or tying in our social studies standards for learning Illinois history.

The thing is, I don’t think that this book is particularly appropriate for the age-group I teach. In elementary school, especially in the primary grades, we teach students about selecting “just right” books. As a teacher, I need to do the same when selecting books to read to my class. As I previewed the book, I thought it would be a good choice. But after reading it today, I don’t think I agree. (Yes, I am disagreeing with myself.)

So tomorrow I am going to make another change. I am going to do something I haven’t done before with my class: I am going to put down a book and select a new one that has a better fit. I still want to read a story relevant to Illinois history and Abraham Lincoln, but I need one that is more appropriate for my purposes and for my students.

Life is all about change; anytime we allow ourselves to get caught in a holding pattern, or just doing something a certain way because we’ve always done it that way, we run the risk of complacency. I never want to be complacent as a teacher, and I never want to do something just to do it. I’ll be sure to explain this to my class tomorrow as part of my explanation for why we are not going to continue to read Abe Lincoln Grows Up.

I think they’ll understand. My class is quite open to change.


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