Tuesday, March 01, 2011

What I Teach

For those who have never taught, it would be I think, a shock to realize how much we teach. I don't mean our content and subject areas, although that's daunting enough.

I also don't mean moving from one activity to the next, walking in the hall, sitting on the carpet, talking quietly with friends, or cleaning up. These are all fairly standard, along with a host of things I haven't even mentioned.

Just a bit ago we walked down the stairs from the computer lab and I had to help two or three students walk down the stairs. I'm not talking about being safe, I'm talking about walking down the steps one foot on each step. They still (in first grade) walk with both feet on each step. That takes forever. With my reminders and encouragement they can take the stairs like the rest of their class, but they aren't independent yet.

I spend at least at part of most days working with at least one student to help her realize when she is getting upset. If she can begin to recognize the way her body feels before she explodes, she can try to take a break and diffuse the situation for herself.

I teach students to use a stapler and paperclips regularly. Just recently I taught them to use screwdrivers and pliers (although I'll admit that's far from standard). I teach how to hang up coats and backpacks and where to put mittens and hats so they don't get lost. On a regular basis I teach how to close markers properly so they don't dry out.

If I am with my students then I am teaching someone something. The great majority of what I teach is not on any standard anywhere, but it is as or more important than anything the state or district has mandated I teach.

I'm sure other teachers could name dozens of things they teach that haven't even occurred to me, things that don't meet any standards for their grade or subject.


Laura said...

Although most of what I teach could roughly fall under what I'm supposed to teach, I am amazed at the range of tech stuff kids don't know. Some examples: the difference between a browser and a word processor (or any program that's not web connected; they think everything is); where the c: prompt is; that you can type an address in the address bar without going to google first; what a file really is. At least ten types a day, I help someone with something that is kind of a fundamental skill. And that's a good thing--but at the same time, I hear "oh, those kids, they know everything about technology." Um, yeah, come spend a day with me.

A MilShelb Mom said...

So true! I find myself thinking things like this sometimes... the things I teach are crazy. :)

The Science Goddess said...

As a secondary teacher: Thank You.

Thank you for teaching kids how to correctly hold a pencil...to stand in line...to count and read...and all the other you do that make my time with them easier.

Your efforts do not go unappreciated.

Mr. David M. Beyer said...

Nice. I identified with the part about helping a student identify when she's getting mad. I'm working with a student every day on how to effectively deal with frustration. His response is to blow up at the next person who talks to him, which causes problems. I teach kids how to ask each other for help, when to ask others to give them space, and how to see their own role in getting someone else mad. There's so much teaching that occurs in the margins of the day...

Sarah said...

So true! Don't forget shoe tying, when to tattle, how to poke a straw through a juice box, and how to cut in a circle :)

Jenny said...

Laura, I completely identify with what you are saying. Most kids are pretty comfortable just pushing buttons and trying things, but the extent of what they don't understand is mind-boggling.

A MilShelb Mom, I'd love to see a job description that really explains what we do!

Science Goddess, Thank you! You are amazingly wonderful and know just what to say.

David, "the margins of the day" is a great way to explain it. Some days those margins are huge and other days they seem completely normal.

Sarah, How could I have forgotten those? Too true.