Adapted from Kids First From Day One by Christine Hertz and Kristine Mraz
Sometimes when we enter new teaching situations, we grip what we know with an iron will, but flexibility is key to success in teaching. Add to that the fact that almost all teachers are asked, at some point, to teach certain standards in a certain way at a certain time of the school year, it can feel like there is only one route to take in your classroom. If you are a brand-new teacher, you might have left your first week of inservice with sets of curricula for math, reading, writing, word study, science, and social studies stuffed into your teacher tote bag and a head spinning with questions. And we all know that new things are always being added to our teaching plates, every year - forget last year's math curriculum, this year we're doing this one!
One of the biggest balancing acts of teaching is finding ways to be flexible in the often inflexible context in which you've found yourself. It's not hard to fear that being flexible will lead you astray from what you need to do. You know you must teach what's expected, but it is important to weave in your own style of teaching and stay true to your anchoring beliefs.
How can that happen? And what about the interests, passions, and needs of all the students in front of you? How can you balance it all? First, take a breath - this gets easier; next, take a close look at exactly what is and what is not in your control. There is often more wiggle room than might first appear. Then, find your flexibility and run with it!
Christine Hertz is coauthor of the Heinemann titles Kids First from Day One and A Mindset for Learning. She finds great joy and challenge in helping all children grow as independent and engaged students. She is passionate about keeping play and creativity at the center of children's lives and curiosity and wonder at the heart of learning. Christine has taught in a wide variety of classrooms from preschool to fourth grade and as an adjunct instructor of education courses. She currently teaches in Worcester, Vermont. You can follow her on Twitter @christine_hertz or visit her web site at christinehertz.com
Kristine Mraz is coauthor—with Christine Hertz—of the new Kids First from Day One, which provides a practical blueprint for increasing the child-centeredness of your teaching practice. She and Christine previously teamed up for the bestselling A Mindset for Learning (coauthored with Christine Hertz), which provides practical and powerful strategies for cultivating optimism, flexibility, and empathy alongside traditional academic skills. Kristi teaches Kindergarten in the New York City Public schools. In addition to writing and teaching, she consults in schools across the country and as far away as Taiwan. She primarily supports teachers in early literacy, play, and inquiry based learning. You can follow all of her adventures on twitter @MrazKristine or on her blog kinderconfidential.wordpress.com