The great John Dewey once said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” Reflecting is what I am doing every day this year as I move forward using a flexible schedule with first- and second-grade students.
I shared Journey to a Flexible Schedule: Part 1 in October. Now, several months later, here are a few more things that I have learned:
- Listening Is the Key: This is something I am actively working on! I tend to be focused on my response, rather then listening fully to what is being shared. I have found that when I really listen, I hear what the teacher would like to try. Then we work together to develop a more collaborative lesson. If I am only focused on what I want to do or what I plan to say, it becomes more about me and less about what we are going to do together.
- Timing Is Everything: I am still providing a monthly menu of options to first- and second-grade teachers, but I am very aware of when I give it out. Sending it to teachers the day before conferences is not an ideal time for them to think about how they want to work with me. Additionally, trying to talk to a teacher at the end of the day, as students are packing up, does not lead to the best lesson planning. Paying attention to what is happening in the school, as a whole, has helped create a more collaborative culture.
- Google Docs: Google Docs have become my new best friend! When planning with a teacher we have been using Google Docs so we can both see, revisit, and change a lesson as needed. Although planning together is still the best option, when time is a problem, Google Docs have allowed us to plan together even when we are not together.
- Working with All Types of People: I have learned that it is even more important to be open to all teaching styles. Everyone I work with approaches projects differently. I have had to learn to adapt what I am doing to met the needs of the teachers and students within each classroom.
What we are still working on:
- Time: This is always a problem in any school I have ever worked in. There is never enough time to plan together, teach together, or reflect on what we have done. This is where I try to be quick and direct when planning together. Being present is also something that helps with time. I make myself visible. If they see me often it may start a conversation that could lead to a lesson or project.
- Complete Understanding: Some of the teachers I work with have embraced this new method of teaching. We have been able to plan lessons and co-teach with ease. They understand how the library curriculum and the classroom curriculum can and should be married. Yet, others still feel they have to “fit me in.” They are looking at me as a separate entity. As we move toward the end of the year, I plan to check in with these teachers more often. I want to make sure that all students have equal access to the library curriculum. Hopefully, with time they will begin to see the benefits of this teaching model.
Are you using a flexible schedule? Please share what is working for you!
John Dewey Quotes (Author of Art as Experience). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/42738.John_Dewey