What do I do?!! Eeeee!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by DrivingPigeon, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    My team members want to meet weekly and do the exact same thing for literacy every morning. :( They want to do this so that we can "swap" kids (1 takes the low, 1 takes the middle, 1 takes the high).

    The thing is, I do things very differently than they do. We have a curriculum, but it is incredibly boring and I don't really follow it. I use some of the lessons, but I teach other things as well. I find it to be way too easy for most of my kids. Instead of reading the same big book 3 days in a row, I compile all 3 (easy) lessons into 1 day and use the other 2 days to do author studies and other fun things.

    Our curriculum also has the kids learning all letters and sounds by the end of APRIL, but we're expecting them to know them by the beginning of DECEMBER!!! For this reason, I plan on teaching 2 letters each week, instead of one. When I mentioned this last year to them they looked at me like I had 2 heads.

    Some weeks our curriculum has the kids learning 2 high-frequency words. I follow this pattern, and I actually "ran out" of words to teach the last 5 weeks of school. I found 10 other high-frequency words in those weeks and my kids did great with it!

    They also read one book for guided reading per group per week. I review the old book and introduce a new one each day that I meet with a group. This is what I learned in college to be the most effective, and it is what my literacy specialist recommends, yet they don't do it.

    I don't want to swap kids because I don't want to teach the same thing as them. If I did, I would seriously go crazy and probably hate coming to work each day. That curriculum is the most boring thing every and I LOVE literacy. It's my minor and I've even thought about being a lit specialist someday. Straying from the curriculum allows me to be creative in what I teach, and as a result my kids did AMAZING last year (20 out of 21 were above average). Plus, if we are all teaching different levels of kids it doesn't even make sense that we're teaching the same exact thing!!!

    Ugh, I'm pretty much just venting, but I really do need advice. We're supposed to meet tomorrow to talk about this all. They want to figure out what we're teaching from week to week. Basically, they know that I don't follow the curriculum. How on earth do I handle this? I'm at a loss...
     
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  3. mdith4him

    mdith4him Companion

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    That stinks!! I hope you all can reach a compromise of some sort. It sounds like you are following the curriculum, just at an accelerated pace and adding your own stuff on top of it. Maybe explaining why you dislike the curriculum (and showing your students' scores from last year) will help convince them to leave you alone. Are you required to collaborate with them on everything? Maybe you could offer to collaborate on another subject (math, science, social studies...) instead of literacy. I don't really have a whole lot of advice for you, I guess...but good luck! I hope it all works out for you :)
     
  4. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    What's their motivation in swapping kids? Is it just so they can arbitrarily swap kids, or do they plan on stable groups but just want to switch out some kids who are regularly in their class into different classes for literacy?

    It's good they already know you don't follow the curriculum. I'd agree with mdith, give your reasons and approach it with an attitude of getting everyone what they really want out of the situation while being willing to make some compromises (hopefully everyone is willing to make some compromises -- or maybe, given that your technique works well, they'd be interested in moving towards it).
     
  5. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I think what they want to do is send as many kids as needed so that each teacher is teaching a different "level."

    I talked to my lit specialist and she said that she understands what they are trying to do, but she agrees that it doesn't make sense, because the higher kids will be moving at a faster pace, and the lower kids will probably need more review. She suggested that I just be very honest, and she knows they will be angry. The thing is, they are super nice to my face, but I know that they don't agree with the way I teach. Sorry, but I hate worksheets, and I'd rather do hands-on activities.

    Anyway, my lit specialist said that I should just be careful how I say things. For example, I could say, "I plan on teaching 2 letters per week, but I don't want you guys to have to change your instruction to go with what I'm doing."

    I just can't wait until our little meeting is over! I hate feeling like the odd one out.
     
  6. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I'm confused. They really think they should be ability-grouping the kids, but then not taking any advantage of the fact the kids are grouped by ability? What's the point of splitting them up by ability, then? It's taking all the disadvantages of heterogenous grouping and mixing them with all the disadvantages of separating kids by ability, without even the theoretical advantages of EITHER approach. No higher-level kids helping lower level, or differentiation of curriculum for the advanced, but retain the elitist separation of splitting kids up into ability groups and artificially holding them to the pace of the slowest. If they're not going to take any advantage of the different abilities, they might as well be splitting them by any random measure. They might as well be separating the kids by height.

    Somehow, though, I don't think my confusion has anything to do with the clarity of your explanation. I suspect pigeons and loons just don't get along (I'd have used bats instead -- but bats are cool).
     
  7. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Ditto! Those are my thoughts exactly. It makes absolutely no sense, and I just hate this entire idea. :(
     
  8. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I really feel for you. I went through the same thing 2 years ago. I was very much against the idea of ability grouping in K. They make so much progress so quickly, flexible grouping is just impossible. Not to mention it's hard on them to deal with different teachers and their different styles during the day.

    I just put my foot down and said I wouldn't agree to do it. I found lots of research that said tracking kids in elementary doesn't make a difference. I also work with worksheet teachers and honestly couldn't stand the thought of my kids having to sit through that every day.

    The other 2 teachers I work with decided to switch classes and group high and low for reading and math, I'm self-contained. Maybe something like that would work for you. I don't like being the odd one out either, but I had to do what was best for my kids.
    Let us know how it goes.
     
  9. love2teach

    love2teach Enthusiast

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    Eeek is right! I would not want to do this either, unless it was done mabye in the spring.

    Does your principal know aobut this? Not that you want to tattle one your team, but I highly doubt that most would go for this with little K'ers! It will be wayyyy to confusing for them.

    Like others have said, if you are going to group them by ability, then at least take advantage of being able to do different things. I can see having to cover the same topics and word work each week, but the work and rigor should vary since the classes will be split by level.

    Good luck! Keep us posted!
     
  10. Mrs N

    Mrs N Rookie

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    We do not ability group like that in K at my school- we have instructional paras that will help those teachers differentiate the curriculum (ex. monitor students that are working on something while the teacher instructs a small group of high/low learners, give the struggling readers more practice at reading, etc.) In first grade we do ability group- we have as many levels as there are teachers and are careful to make groups that have appropriate amounts of students depending on their level. We use this time to help students read books or work on our focus skill for the week. We do regular language arts in our homerooms and use the "flex group" (for flexible ability group) time to hit target skills that students might be missing. Maybe that would be a compromise? Some things you teach in homeroom L.A. and then fill in the "holes" during these groups?
     
  11. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I haven't read everyones replies. I would set up your learning lab for 30 to 40 mins three days a week. That will leave you time to teach your class what you want but yet gives all the children boosts in their ability leveled groups. We actually do this in my school but we break up into 12 groups. If I was in your situation I would take the low group of students.
     
  12. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Also, I wanted to mention we don't start until after Christmas.
     
  13. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    well, it could be good if you had them by ability and taught the high group, then you could teach whatever you all decide, and you could really enrich those high kids :)
     
  14. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Can you really reliably determine the "high group" in kindergarten? As someone else mentioned, doesn't it change pretty radically at that age?

    If she took the low group, odds are some of them would have been misidentified. And then odds are that superior teaching would have a more impressive effect on them. Imagine if she took the "low" group and by the year's end outscored one or both other groups, something which seems within the realm of possibility. Future conversations might take a much different turn.
     
  15. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I don't agree with swapping at that age. I think kids this age need the stability of one teacher. The whole thing doesn't make sense to me.
     
  16. janney

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    I could see changing up the classes if you have enough students who are already doing first grade level work in the first few weeks of kindergarten. They could be in one class that could be on their level and really push them. But I can't see separating them into a low medium and high group. There needs to be a mix of student abilities. Also some kinders are just low because they haven't been taught yet and as soon as they are exposed they just take off. I would say no thank you to this type of division.
     
  17. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    I would take the lowest kids. it seems like you have really good skills to work with them.

    BUT if at all possible, I would just hope you keep your own kids. Literacy will tie into so many other things you do, you really probably want to be there for all of it so you have a whole picture of the child.
     
  18. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I just wanted to let some of you know that are saying it's not good to switch teachers, and this age group needs consistency that my team has switched children for the past two years. It has worked out wonderfully. It actually is the kids favorite part of the day. Granted we don't do it just for literacy, we have a fine motor group too. For those kids that don't qualify for OT but need it. We have a speech group for the kids that don't qualify but need a boost (the speech teacher, does the instruction). In my class I have seen great improvement in all of the students. It really helps children to meet the standards. We have six classes of 18 to 20 students and have six ed techs. So our children are broken into 12 groups so we try to keep the groups around 8 to 12 students.
     
  19. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    That's my thing, too, is that I won't be able to say, "Remember this morning when we..." I think that's why they want to make sure we're all doing the same exact thing, but it just doesn't make sense to switch then.

    My district is big on PLC's (Professional Learning Communities) and the idea that it isn't "your class" and "my class." Rather, they are "our students." I think that's great if it will improve learning for all students, but I don't think my team is approaching it the correct way.

    I thought a lot last night about how I'm going to say things, and I think I'm ready. The thing that I hate the most, though, is that I know they will be really nice to me, but then talk about the whole thing when I'm not there (their rooms are connected and down the hall from mine). It's so frustrating...

    We're meeting in about 5 hours after staff meetings and lunch, so I'll let you know how it goes! :unsure:
     
  20. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    I do think it would change, so the groups would have to be fluid, changing if the needs of the kids changed.

    I also think that it is good for the kids to meet with different teachers, and to adapt to different teaching styles.

    I also think when you are the "new teacher" in the group it is easier to assimilate into the "group" if you listen to ideas and try them out. even if it is out of your comfort zone, maybe it would work.

    then, if it doesn't work then say, hey this doesn't work for me.
     
  21. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Well, I survived the meeting! :)

    I guess they mostly want to "swap" students during literacy centers and guided reading. I thought that we were going to try to do this so that the students who don't really belong in a group within our classroom would have a group at their level. For example, if I have one student who is really high and another teacher has 2 really high students, we would put them all together.

    What they want to do is switch kids so that one teacher has all of the A level students (in maybe 3 groups), another teacher has all of the B's and C's, and then another teacher has the D's, G's, and H's (that's just an example-not sure where our students will be, obviously!).

    I'm not really sold on the idea. :( They want those students to stay in the other classroom for the entire time. For example, if I send my lowest students to teacher A, they would stay in there not only for guided reading, but for the entire literacy center time.

    The thing is, I don't really like how they do guided reading and literacy centers. :( I did SO much research last year on how to do centers. I feel like the things I do are very valuable to my students and I consider it the "heart" of my teaching. The literacy specialist has been in all 3 of our classrooms for literacy centers, and she basically said that they do things in a very "old-fashioned" way and need to update the way they do centers. Almost all of their centers are product-oriented, and I keep all of my centers open-ended, so that students can take it to their own level.

    They also read one book per group per week. I read a new book every day, because that's what I've always learned to be most effective. Because of this, my lowest students read 16 books in 4 weeks, where their lowest students are reading 4 books in 4 weeks. I also re-assess my students about every 3 weeks (with running records) because they show so much growth, and they only do it 2 or 3 times per year.

    UGH, I feel like I'm being such a whiner, but I really really really really really like the way I do centers and guided reading. I spent SO much time last year trying to come up with a system that works. I want all of my students to be a part of the work and dedication I put into planning centers weekly.

    The other teachers think either I don't know anything, or they are intimidated because my students did so well last year. Either way, they don't listen to any of my ideas. I LOVE sharing methods and lessons, but I feel like it's only 1 way.

    I'm trying to give this whole thing a chance, but I'm just really concerned. Thanks for letting me vent...
     
  22. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Is this a school mandated decision or just a grade level choice? Sorry - I did not read all previous posts, just the last one.

    I wonder if the literacy coach has approached the other teachers about their centers.
     
  23. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    PLC's are mandated, but the decisions you make to improve student achievement are made by your team.

    I'm not sure if the lit specialist has talked to them about their centers. I know she has talked to them about guided reading, though.

    My principal approached me and asked if I would be interested in leading a Daily 5 book group with a first grade teacher. (Although, I don't really do the Daily 5...I do a combination of the Daily 5 and Debbie Diller's book, so I don't know if I'm the right one to lead a group...) I'm sure if they had to sit and listen to me talk about my literacy centers, they would be irate!
     
  24. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    Sounds liek a frustratign situation. I bet you do the centers really well though, debbie diller plus daily five sounds like how I want to do things. Wish you taught here with me!
     
  25. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Aw, that's sweet. :) I would love to collaborate with people who were open to new ideas!
     
  26. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    DP - I hope it works out for you. I think this sort of arrangement works out so much better when you are part of a well-oiled team. If it gets results, then I guess it's worth all the trouble.

    And I had to present Debbie D to some co-workers who are not keen on workstations this year, I was seriously dreading it but they were surprising receptive, so you might be surprised.
     

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