Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Scrappy Teacher Gets in a Scrape

When I picked the moniker "Scrappy Teacher" for the purposes of this blog, it was without much thought.  I liked it initially because it's a good reflection of my classroom at any given time- slightly messy, buzzing with activity, full of heart.  That's certainly one definition of scrappy and it's one I'm proud to be associated with.

People's Exhibit A for the Scrappy Classroom

There's another meaning to the word though and I've been thinking a lot about it today. "Scrappy: determined, argumentative, or pugnacious."

Here's the story (and I put a lot of thought into whether or not I should share this):
I am in a weird situation at work.  I can't PROVE this but I'm 99% certain that the person who teaches the other section of my grade level doesn't like me.  And because the only thing we've ever talked about is teaching, I can't help but put those two things together.  The first day I met this individual, she insulted my philosophy of teaching big time.  As in, she literally ask me how my students learn if they don't do worksheets.




First of all, noooooo, work sheets in early education classrooms!  Nightmare of developmental inappropriateness!

Second, WHAT???  Even if you THOUGHT that why would you say it???  Or at least say it like that?  "How do your students learn anything?"  And it was not meant as a curious question it was meant as a MEAN one, and (I assure you) was asked in a mean tone.  I politely explained to her that my students learn through a variety of methods- we write a message out together in the morning, we hunt for letters, play letter games, look for patterns in our environment, write bills out for our customers in the dramatic play center, etc etc etc.  I didn't even get into the whole critical thinking aspect of everything because yiiikes clearly not the time.  (And just to be clear, this was not started by me inquiring about how she taught.  The conversation arose from her asking me what worksheets I was planning to use for the classroom.)

Artist depiction of aforementioned teacher.

Now I get that because of past experiences, depictions of kindergarten on TV, and the results when you google 'kindergarten lesson plans,' a lot of people think early ed is just worksheets, Hallmark themes and letter of the week (shudder shudder).  Heck, I even see how one could incorporate letter of the week into a developmentally appropriate lesson plan.  What I DON'T understand is why as a teacher you wouldn't make it your business to keep up with modern thought in education- and then judge me, who you just met.

So I'm feeling very scrappy lately and (I'll admit it) defensive- of my teaching methods, yes, but more importantly of children's rights to be children.  To play and inquire, to not be taught at constantly.

Bottom line, I'll take practicing writing names in shaving cream over copying letters on a worksheet any day of the week.

Scrappy Teacher says, "Take THAT, worksheets!"

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