Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The long walk down the hall .....

Sometimes I just have to give myself a break.

I was beating myself up today because I just haven't been able to make headway with a small group of my kids who just can't seem to get the basics of money. They mix up the coins, their value, forget to add on or just plain add wrong. Even with supports like wall posters, number charts, etc., it's just taking so daaaarrrrnnnn lllloooonnnnngggg!!

When my more reasonable side took hold, I remembered that 2 of the 5 kids have severe processing deficits, and, OF COURSE, for them, it will take longer for the concepts to gel. A third child has been absent so much she has missed any sense of continuity of instruction, and the last child often sleeps through Math because of his afternoon meds. His little nap doesn't usually cause a big problem, because I am able to catch him up easily at another time. But he's having trouble with the memorizing needed to identify the coins and match their value. So the challenges continue.

Reasonable or not, I felt like a crummy teacher this afternoon.

I've used all kinds of strategies, including using real coins and playing store, lots of singing songs adapted to teach the names and value of the coins, "drill and kill" (not very successful at this point), peer coaching, whole group and one-on-one instruction, playing money games that teach trading and adding money.... and still we flounder.

My next step? Wander on down the hall to veteran first grade teacher Mrs. A, and get her take on the problem. What other strategies does she use? Her kids are ready for the chapter test... what exactly did she do differently that brought such success. Mrs. A, just what am I missing??

In retrospect, that walk down the hall I plan to take is one way I know I am not such a crummy teacher after all. Crummy teachers don't take the time to think through their challenges and ASK FOR HELP!!

Teaching is hard, and because I have been doing it a long time and fairly well, I forget just how hard it can be. Thank goodness I have my colleagues to turn to. Thank goodness my school is a collaborative learning space, and asking for help is encouraged and honored.

Thank goodness for teachers like Mrs. A.

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