Another school year is almost over…my 18th year of teaching. As always, I tried some new strategies and ideas while discarding what hadn’t proved effective. Now that the school year is coming to its inevitable conclusion I get to indulge in a favorite activity – reflecting, of course!
Reflections on WBT
This year was my grand experiment in using Whole Brain Teaching in my classroom. The previous year I had only just dabbled in it – using the Class-Yes, Scoreboard and a few of the Power Pix on my walls. With a lot of reading and intensive preparation, I worked feverishly over my summer break so I would be able to fully implement the Whole Brain Teaching strategies with my 4th graders.
Two Thumbs Up
So…how’d it go? If you want a quick answer, I’d give it two thumbs up. I liked it and the early assessment scores seem to indicate it was effective in improving my students’ learning. Not everything can be quantified, however. The level of engagement in lessons improved and I certainly had more strategies for dealing with classroom management issues, too. One big lesson I learned was to be yourself. I’m more introspective and less gregarious, so it wasn’t a good idea to try to pretend otherwise and proved impossible to sustain. My challenge next year will be to use Whole Brain Teaching within the context of my true personality. Also, I’m not a purist. I think it’s perfectly fine to use what works for you. Is Whole Brain Teaching effective? Yes. Do you have to throw out all your other equally effective strategies? No.
Let’s Get Specific
But what’s a blog if you can’t get specific and ramble a bit about one’s reflections? Here are some take-aways from my first year of Whole Brain Teaching…
- Classroom Management – one of my favorite and most used aspects of Whole Brain Teaching. It definitely took me some time to “get my head” around the routines, but I did gradually improve. With time and concentrated effort, I’m sure that will continue.
- SuperSpeed 1000 – absolutely loved this! My reading scores also reflected its effectiveness. While not the only component of a strong reader, having a solid foundation in sight words and fluency is important.
- SuperSpeed Math – tried it…maybe I wasn’t doing it correctly, but I didn’t see any difference in my students’ knowledge of basic facts. Right now it doesn’t look like I will be using it next year other than as a part of our nightly homework.
- Mind Soccer – this never really took off with my students. Again, that could be due to my inexperience. I did a variation of it instead, and used the review cards I had made as a simple (but less frenetic) review at the end of the day.
- Power Pix – these will definitely be coming back with a few revisions. Some of the gestures were improved upon by my students, so that’s a good thing.
- Star Homework – another keeper and one that was very popular with parents, too.
- Super Improver Wall – one of my absolute favorites! Students were rewarded with stars as they improved in both academic and behavior. Perhaps the most perfectly differentiated reward system I’ve ever seen.
- Genius Ladder – an excellent oral language and writing activity. I’m definitely doing it at the beginning of the year. It got us started off with strong sentence writing skills that we were able to then build upon into paragraphs and essays as the year progressed. Plus, they really enjoyed it, too!
Reflections About the Future
Of course, all these reflections naturally lead me to think how I will finally achieve teaching perfection next year!!! Well, that may be a bit too ambitious, but a (small) part of me is already looking forward to next year. Until that time, however, The Reflective Educator is going to take a well-deserved break. I’ll be back with more posts and ideas in July. I hope you had a great school year with perhaps a few ideas that have you excited about the next year. Until then, may you relax and enjoy your time off from the greatest and most rewarding profession I know. Peace out!