Teaching Multiple Grade Levels
I will begin with this question: In your teaching career how many different grade levels have you had the opportunity to teach or provide mentorship?
Why do I ask this you may wonder? I have had the opportunity to teach/mentor from Kindergarten to Grade 6. When I began teaching 26 years ago, teaching positions were scarce so I took whatever position was available and offered to me.
In my first 5 years or so I taught Grade 1, Grade 5, Grade 4, Grade 2 and Grade 3. I also substitute taught from Kindergarten to Grade 6. These experiences were invaluable. They exposed me to incredible learning opportunities as well as helped polish and refine my classroom management skills.
I finally obtained my permanent contract and landed a position in Grade 3 where I have spent the past 18-20 years. During the past 5-7 years, I was gifted the opportunity to mentor Kindergarten to Gr. 4 teachers in the area of mathematics.
Last June (2017) I took a leap of faith and requested a leave of absence from my full-time position to pursue my passion in the area of mathematics. My two passions are teaching and mathematics and I wanted to merge those two while on leave.
I accomplished more than I could ever imagine during these past 7 months! I created many amazing products for teacher learning and classroom use, I have connected with like-minded individuals through social media, I have connected with many passionate educators through face to face workshops and I have substitute taught at various levels Gr. 1-6. The reward of substitute teaching was that the classroom teachers in which I was a guest teacher for allowed me to plan the math lessons. Wow! What a learning curve for me!
I think it is so critical we are stretching and growing in our own learning continually for the benefit of our students. We need to understand where our students have come from and where will they be going in terms of their mathematics journey.
I encourage you to be open and willing to engage in teaching/learning opportunities with teachers and students of different grade levels.
Yes! WE need to know the WHAT to teach, however, we may not all agree on the HOW to teach mathematics. Blaming, frustration, inflexibility is NOT of benefit to our students. Let’s create a community who works together, learns from one another, and engages our students in mathematics using approaches/tasks/activities that are meaningful, rich, and fun!
I will end this blog post with two important messages: The first being, take on the mantra “If not me, then who?” (Christina Tondevold- Build Math Minds). And the second message is to have a “Growth Mindset” for yourself and your students. (Jo Boaler-Mathematical Mindsets)
If not me, then who?
What are your thoughts on teaching multiple grade levels? Do you regularly take on the challenge to learn new things?