I have been teaching in early childhood classrooms for over 30 years. I am used to being a reflective teacher about how I support my students with the use of the physical environment, classroom routines and rituals and the development of a classroom culture. I’ve also spent time interacting with my colleagues to discuss, critique and develop curriculum which supports differentiation and have been recognized for strengths in scaffolding my student’s learning.
But this year there is a new collection of questions for me to consider in reflecting on my practice. These questions pertain to analyzing my ability to clearly define purpose and the use of assessment criteria in a way that is transparent and matches an appropriate learning target. It is true that practically everything that happens in an early childhood classroom will support a child in their trajectory of learning but I have noticed that many preschool teachers have their students doing all kinds of things that aren’t clearly related to developmentally appropriate goals.
With a very young class this year, I have been made overtly aware of this. I want to be sure that what I am saying and asking my students to respond to is intentionally tied to a developmentally appropriate trajectory. So that is why I’ve been recording my lessons almost daily for the past two weeks. I come home, download the video onto my computer and watch.
I am listening to my teacher-talk, listening to the questions I ask students and watching their responses. And then I’m asking myself some hard questions:
“What is the learning target(s)of the lesson? How is it meaningful and relevant beyond the specific task/activity?”
“How do students communicate their understanding about what they are learning and why they are learning it?”
“How does the teacher’s understanding of each student as a learner inform how the teacher pushes for depth and stretches boundaries of student thinking?”
“How does the teacher adjust instruction based on in-the-moment assessment of student understanding?”
(just a few questions from the 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning” UofW Center for Ed. Leadership)
Sometimes my video goes straight to the recycle bin – either because I already know it wasn’t a great lesson, or because my camera wasn’t capturing what I needed to attend to that day. My principal is hoping I’ll be a guinea pig for a staff meeting soon, putting one of my videos up for everyone to review it with more of these questions in mind. I’m learning a lot by doing this and I highly recommend it.