Teaching with Urgency Part One

When I suggest that we need to “ teach with a sense of urgency” I’m not talking about teaching prompted by anxiety but rather about making every moment in the classroom count, about ensuring that our instruction engages students and moves them ahead…”(Routman, 2003, p. 41).


This quote makes me look back on my preliminary observations during the September experience this past fall. What Routman is shedding light on is the importance of making every minute of every school day matter. Routman talks of the idea that the stressed and tense teacher will produce students who are also stressed and tense. If this is the case, fluidly transitioning from lesson to lesson becomes a challenge. This reflects in her own teaching style, “ I am relaxed and happy when I am working with my students.”

The connections I am making between my own student-teacher observations and reading Routman are those of the urgency we must have in teaching is imperative, and that urgency is not the same as rushed or stressed. Sometimes I observe teachers feeling the pressure to complete a lesson to start another lesson on time. Sometimes it seems difficult to use the available time given per lesson , more specifically reading, and making that optimal learning time.

When this happens, I think, some teachers have a tendency to fill the time lost or try to make that up by adding a filler activity to the lesson. The outcome being a lesson that could have been an engaging, and achieve optimal student learning, turns into a haphazard cloud of what could have been.

I have been lucky enough to observe in my cooperating teacher is the way she uses every minute of the school day. When a lesson cuts into another lesson time she makes the best of it. By that I mean, she is quick to incorporate reading or writing into the two lessons. By integrating the reading and writing component it enriches student learning. It also models to students that we use reading and writing skills in all aspects of school. From science to time with an art docent, the students will find engaging reading and writing components in the lesson.

This seems like the most effective way to get the most out of the whole school day, by integrating subjects and being urgent with the teaching. As a future educator I foresee myself not waiting till I need to think on my feet to test our integrating subjects but rather utilize every minute of the school day by planning on integrations. This, paired with teaching with a sense of urgency will lead to optimal learning for myself and students.

Reflections : round two

Reflective thinking is exhausting as a student teacher. There are so many outlets for it, blogs, tweets, social media, journals and of course coffee meetings with friends and co-workers. With the end of this quarter nearing, and the pile of coursework getting higher and higher, it makes me think how our students handle this reflection. It saddens and angers me some when I overhear a teacher saying “ they just don’t get it” or “ in one ear out the other”, or worst “ my students are just unmotivated to think about this stuff”. This is simply not true. Student has just as much as reflection as we do, It just doesn’t look the same as ours. What makes this idea terrifying is that their reflections may include thoughts of “ I don’t understand this..” or “ Miss. So-and-so is really hard on me..I don’t get it..”. I think it is up to us to give them some more reflective tools and outlets so we can see where they are at in learning and what is weighing heavy on them. Besides journaling or blogging I am still mulling the ideas over, so any help or ideas will be greatly appreciated below!

Un-Plug and Make a Connection

With all this talk of technology in the classroom, “there is an app for that”, and bridging the gap between learning and technology I find myself thinking about connections in the classroom. No, not a connection to the world wide web, but person to person connection. Rather, the teacher to student connection.
This thought came to me during my student teaching this week. Our lesson was centered on using video clips to drive the unit objective home to students in the most explicit way. And though I say some made connections from the movie clip to context to their own notes, mostly they were just thrilled to be able to watch a movie (I say movie because five clips ranging from 5-10 minutes is a movie in my book).
However, before the lesson began, I was able to check in with some students and I had startling conversation with one in particular. Now, I am not going to divulge a student’s thoughts and worries on the web, but I will share a phrase that left an impact: “I don’t give a hoot (student used their own choice word here) about what we are learning, why does it matter?”
And though we worked through why it did matter, my teacher speech was interrupted with another thought by this student: “why do you even care about what I learn, you don’t know my history, I am a BAD student”.
By “bad student” the student meant more than just test scores. Needless to say I had my own moment with this student, telling them in fact that I do care, and I do not care about their past and in fact I am here on their time and not being paid for it because like them, I too am a student. Was my response honest? Yes. Did the student look shocked that a person who has only known them for a matter of weeks cares about what they learn how they feel and much more? Sadly, yes. And though this conversation brought to life some real participation in class all the while using technology to boot I could not help feeling we are missing the point here.
The point, that could easily turn into a rant about championing students, specifically those attending school in a low income area etc. (And, that is an important topic that all teachers need to keep in their mind). But, the point is that we are becoming so wrapped up in using technology to connect students to learning that we might overlook the most significant connection of all: connecting to the students.