Knowing how to adapt our teaching to our students
~ By Elena
Over the course of a week, I either teach or co-teach four separate groups of third graders. And now after having settled into a routine with every single one of these classes I can very confidently say that no two groups are the same nor will they ever be the same. Each class with their diverse make-up of students will pose new challenges but also successes which will always be the most rewarding moments of my day.
The only third grade class I teach alone is calm, willing to participate and loves interactive activities. I see them the most frequently, and as a teacher/class pair I know we work well together. I can look at a lesson plan and know how things will generally play out with them: what they will enjoy, what they will struggle with and what will come easy to them. However, the class and more specifically the students that continue to surprise me come from one I co-teach. I only see them Tuesday and Thursday when I come to the afternoon school. Manuela and I have found a pretty good rhythm with both third grades, we use my morning experiences to change and adapt the lesson to better benefit our high energy – can’t always sit still kiddos. We know we need to have minimal time where it is just teacher talking and lots of board activities and brain breaks to allow them to better focus.
The journey to adapting our co-taught lessons to better suit our third graders took some time. We needed to know what kind of learners they are and how to engage their brains in a way that made English fun for them. And with the time and struggle that took, they have become my most rewarding classes to-date. One student, we had struggled for the first month of school getting him to even begin let alone complete worksheets because he couldn’t focus. But just the other day as I was packing up my things, he came up to me and handed me his completed paper and said “regalo Teacher” meaning it was a gift and he wanted me to take it. Looking back over it, his answers were nowhere near perfect, but the fact that he had completed it with his classmates was something that has taken time. Even though it has been taxing and time consuming, I consider having him be able to focus and finish his work as one of those daily, even weekly victories that I always look forward to.