Practice what I preach…that has been a saying in the back of my head for the last few weeks. Our state testing for math starts today and it has been a real challenge balancing test prep with innovative, meaningful teaching. In the past few weeks, I’ve had to squeeze in math topics we hadn’t gotten to yet and complete many test preparation exercises and work. I feel like I’ve been on a mad dash to the test, trying to make sure we get it all in. And all the while, I’ve tried hard to balance myself and my students with some fun and creative lessons and projects.
In some ways, I’ve succeeded. A couple of weeks back, my colleague, Chris and I combined our classes for a studio day where students took pictures of the land and water (one of our science units) in our school’s backyard and wrote haikus inspired by their own photography. For Mother’s Day, our entire fourth grade team decided to work on a project that integrated our study of Mexico as we created Mexican yarn art Mother’s Day cards. And what has turned out to be one of my class’s favorites: the many math dances we have come up with to help solidify math concepts – the topic of a future post, for sure!
But I have to admit: it’s been hard. The weeks that lead up to THE TEST are stressful for teachers. There is a lot of pressure put on us to make sure our students do well. Sometimes it’s from administration, sometimes from colleagues, or ourselves. So much rides on these tests and how OUR students do. It’s been hard to fit it all in. A few times I contemplated giving up the good stuff so that I can jam pack the day with as much math practice as possible.
But if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times to the many teachers I have come in contact with at art integration workshops and courses.
You have to make the commitment to just do it! Provide those meaningful opportunities for your students. The lasting rewards are well worth the time you spend in class and the experiences will only deepen your students’ love of learning.
Yes, I feel as if I am coaching myself sometimes. These last weeks I’ve found myself saying more than once, “I’ve got to practice what I preach.” It keeps me in check and hopefully makes me a better teacher.