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Friday, February 19, 2016

tribute to primary

This month, the #compelledtribe is sharing posts in tribute to a teacher of our choice. This prompt came at the perfect time, as a week or so ago, I had to help out with sub coverage in a first grade classroom. Today, I'd like to give tribute to all the primary teachers out there, who do such wonderful work each day!



I don't want to take anything away from intermediate, middle, and high school teachers - all of us work very hard to study and teach our content, build relationships with students, plan amazing lessons, and provide feedback to help our students grow. But have you ever spent a whole day in a primary classroom? More particularly, a kinder or a first grade classroom? Primary teaching isn't just singing songs and playing in centers. It's hard work that takes loads of planning, organization, and structure!

Primary teachers, you are a special bunch! Your students show up with a range of abilities in kinder and all grow in their learning in different ways. They are so small and can't really be independent for much time at all, so I'd like to recognize all the work that goes into planning engaging instruction for them.

Kinder and first grade teachers are the first official teachers (parents are first, #amIright?) of reading... very important work going on with this age range! In our literacy block, you teach your students to be independent with authentic activities so that you can be freed up to provide guided reading that meets each child's needs. You study and prepare lessons that are differentiated and really hit exactly what each child needs. You prepare word study within guided reading, and for explicit instruction of sight words. All of this is after you've  worked with books, and taken anecdotal notes on what the children can do. And all of that happens while the rest of your class works independently for 10-20 minutes at a time. Seriously, it's amazing work that you do!

Our Kinders are writing personal narratives, complete with pictures and labels, and making their way to sentences. Firsties are writing Teaching Books about all kinds of topics, books that are planned out in advance and polished beautifully. While their final drafts aren't perfect, each one is each child's best work, which will be added to a portfolio for reflection later. And don't forget about celebrations! Our writers always get to share their work with their peers, which really amps up their engagement!

And don't even get me started on math. I have no idea how you teach math conceptually children who are five and six, but you all know exactly how and deliver instruction to them in a meaningful way. Jamie Duncan, your passion and knowledge inspires me so much!

Not only all of this, but our Dual Language and Bilingual teachers do so in two languages as well! I know it takes time to plan and prepare for both languages, but building two languages is so important in recognizing the gifts that our students bring to our classrooms. Thank you for studying best practices and trying out new and modified ways of delivering instruction that will best support our learners. 

And academics aside, you do so much to support their social and emotional needs at this age - give them band-aids, wipe their tears, and tie their shoes. You use class pets for classroom management and give them a hug when they miss their parents. You help them learn the importance of taking turns, and sharing, and listening. You read them stories that they can "live through" so they can learn from them about compassion, empathy, and self-control. You build them up when they're down and also teach them important life lessons when they're not being their best selves. It's a short 9 months that you spend with your students, but your lessons and impressions are lasting.

It's February, a month celebrating love and friendship, and I simply adore the work you do each day. Thank you for your tireless dedication to our students...they are so lucky to have you!


Have you sent some love to a colleague lately? It's the perfect time to do so! Hit them up (I sound so middle school, don't I?) on Twitter, with a note in their mailbox, or a hug when you pass them in the hall. Lift others up, and your heart will be full along with them!

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