13 January 2010

Classroom Focus: Mr. B's Room is a Room for Improvement

One of the things that continually crosses my mind is how I will want to eventually run my own classroom. When I do get my own classroom; whether a self-contined oneor a resource classroom; I will want to focus to be on Continually Raising the Bar. This can be simply interpretted to mean that the expectations will constantly be raised, or one can categorize me as one who is succes-driven. At it's most basic, this mindset is meant to stave off stagnation and monotony; stagnation in student growth and development, and monotony in the tasks and excercises done every day.

The need for this to be a focus became apparent to me when I was a substitute paraeducation teacher in the Lake Washington School District. I worked in many different classrooms, and had the same scenario happen time and time again. The teacher tells me to have the student perform a task, or set of tasks, and without knowing the process or the presentl levels of the student, i ask them to show me what they can do. The student either performs the task independently, or they complete more of the task than they normally do on a regular basis. I would then witness the teacher's surprise and celebration as she watched the bar of expectation for this student being raised.

How does this happen? How do SpEd teachers not see the growth of their students? How do many SpEd students get coddled through a school, then have a jump in their ability when they go to the higher levels or change schools? Much like the students we work with, we come to rely on our routines and patterns. However, when we get caught in a rut of routine, it is the students that plateau.

There is something to be said of the business world, in that there is an insatiable thirst to achieve more, and do more, and to get more. I have often been told that I work myself out of a job. I take that comment as a compliment, because it means that I am helping my students gain independence and adaptive skills. It is the goal of educators to not be needed. We should move from being hands-on, to hands-off, to merely present.

one of the positive things i took away from my step-dad was that after every fooball game; win or lose; he would ask me, "what's the biggest room in the world," and the answer is The Room for Improvement.

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