I’ll admit it -I’m a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of teacher. I have a rough outline of how our day will go, but I am prepared to handle anything the kids might bring in – expecially if it’s something MUCH better than what I have ready!
How do I best explain this? There is a cooking show host I like who often says, “It’s a method – not a recipe.” I approach teaching the same way. We don’t just have ‘teaching times’ – group time/small group/what have you – I teach all day. There are some tricks that I’ve learned from conferences that are worth sharing.
* “That’s right! How did you know that?” When a child answers a question correctly or makes a wonderful observation, this is a great tool to use. It gives them the chance to explain how they came up with their answer, and it gives the other children the chance to hear how they did it.
* Don’t answer questions immediately. Sure, you probably know the answer – you’ve got a couple of decades on these guys, after all. A better response is, “Hmmm…what do you think?” This lets the child come up with a possible answer – and right or wrong, encourage the thinking! Ex: “Mrs. S, where does hair come from?” “What do you think?” “It’s all inside your head and it comes out.” “That’s a great idea! I wonder if we could look it up in our science book and see.” Use the resources! It’s also alright to answer, “I don’t know.”
When we’re down at the bathrooms, we have great conversations and speculations on all kinds of topics – where does the water come from? Where does it go? Is this enough soap? Why is the paper towel that color? Often the topics have nothing to do with the items in the bathroom, they are just the random thoughts and questions that we all have -and I love that! The same thing happens at mealtimes. Children have great thoughts, comments and observations and we get the chance to explore those at a relaxed pace. THAT is a great feeling – to be part of their learning.