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Education Trends, Uncategorized   |   Nov 1, 2010

10 years ago, I believed…

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

10 years ago, I believed…

By Angela Watson

I was recently reflecting on how much my understanding of best practices has changed since I was a new teacher. I used to believe that:

  • Teaching in small groups is a waste of time because you end up repeating yourself for every group.
  • Kids can’t be trusted on computers because they’ll mess up all the settings and get a ton of viruses.
  • Centers are the best use of kids’ independent work time.
  • Misbehavior should be addressed with respectful dialogue and problem-solving techniques.
  • Parents who don’t show up for conferences don’t care about their kids’ education.
  • Arranging kids’ desks in groups means they’ll be focused on each other and won’t learn anything.

Now, I think that:

  • Teaching in small groups makes it easier to keep kids focused and helps you differentiate instruction.
  • It’s worth the time it takes to train kids to use computers independently–and it doesn’t take that long.
  • Reading [engaging, ‘just right’, self-selected] books is the best use of kids’ independent work time.
  • Sometimes you just need to give the teacher look and keep it moving.
  • Parents who don’t show up for conferences still want to be good parents and still love their kids.
  • Arranging kids’ desks in groups means they’ll be focused on each other and learn a lot if they’re taught how to work collaboratively.

I wonder how these perceptions will change over the next 10 years…

How has YOUR thinking about education changed since you started teaching?

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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  1. Angela,
    Could you please blog on some “how-to’s”–such as what you’ve described in this post? For instance, how do you teach students to sit/work in groups collaboratively, how you teach students to use computers, and assure that students choose “just right” books? I know how I do these things, but I would like to hear another viewpoint. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Thank you for these thoughts. I’m up for NBCT renewal and you helped me get my focus back. I just wrote down what I believed ten years and go and wow, things have changed. I will visit this blog often. Happy Teaching

  3. Just came across this post…I like this list. And I really agree about the independent work time. Having classroom time to read is SO important! Centers have become so integral to so many teachers/schools- but a lot of the time centers do not engage a student in the same way reading a book does.

    And yes, the teacher look works and doesn’t take as much instructional time as other behavior management solutions.

    A couple things I’ve learned:
    -teaching a small group can be more challenging than teaching whole-class
    -For improving comprehension- kids need to talk a lot about the books the read.
    -Read Alouds are essential- they provide a motivation for non-readers to read
    -planning makes a BIG difference
    – but you have to be willing to improvise
    -teaching is a lot like performing
    – kids usually need to have some connection/relationship with their teacher to do well
    -ELL students tend to know a lot fewer vocabulary words than you may asume

    …okay that’s it for now, but I feel like I could keep going on. Thanks for getting me to reflect on my practice

    1. What a fabulous list! I agree with everything you mentioned. The part about performing especially rings true. I didn’t understand in the beginning that I needed to ACT like a calm, collected teacher even when I didn’t feel like it, and get super excited about topics and activities that I wasn’t all that thrilled about. The teacher’s attitude is totally contagious, and to ‘infect’ students with enthusiasm, you have to be a performer sometimes!

  4. It’s kind of embarrassing to compare the way you used to do things and why you thought the way you did. I was gung-ho on teaching whole group direct instruction; mainly because I could maintain control and know students received the information. Accountability was easily attainable with this method. However, years later I realize I was not reaching my student’s many levels of learning. Although there can be a bit of repetition, if you’re differentiating correctly, you’ll never ditto a lesson to a T. This reflection was scary but great to realize I changed my course to better fit my student’s needs. I’ll never go back!! Thanks for this! -G

    1. You’re welcome! It’s extra embarrassing for ME to think about how I used to do things, because it’s all over the internet and in my book! I am working on a second edition of The Cornerstone to reflect these new changes. 🙂 There are subtle changes in my philosophy that I’d like to explain and express in more detail.

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