We had a big language program introduced to us last school year. We are now in the second year of using the program. As it was handed to us to take to our rooms, we were told we would be trained on it soon. We grabbed our boxes, papers, books, and other things and headed back to our rooms. What do we do with all this stuff? That was the whisper as we hauled our back to our rooms. The training came right before school started and we were wide eyed and wondering if we would ever get the whole program down.
About half way though the year I came to the realization that the program didn't matter. The program matters, but what really mattered was the teacher. No matter what program we have or what we are told to teach, the teacher is the person that disseminates the information and helps the student to learn. As the teacher, I need to know what I am teaching. I discussed it with my team and we started to learn the program and what it wanted us to do.
What we found was that the program had some great information in it. I had no doubt that the research was done and the information was correct and the activities we were to do had been tried out before, but I want to see it for myself. But there is no way to find it out if I do not use it. If I just teach the lessons by reading the things I need to read and look for the answers that are printed in the book, I will never really know if it is working. I want to know what it is they want me to teach. I need to know the reasons they are having me teach these lessons and do the activities. What is it that they want from my students? What do I need to look for? What do I tell the student that asks why we need to learn this stuff? Learning the overall theme and looking how it was all put together and how I can work with it helped me in my lessons.
If I just go through the motions, I will never be the teacher I wanted to be the day I graduated from college. So out goes the fluff and in goes the real learning. These big programs. Our districts buy for us do have a lot of great information in them. I am finding that our program is pretty good. I enjoy teaching most of it. The are a few parts that seem to be added in as a second thought, but we work with it. The best thing is that as a teacher, I get to choose what to improve. I get to choose to differentiate with my students. I use the program. I like the program. I know what most of the program wants from me and what it wants from the students. I am still learning. So are the students. Thank goodness.
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