Teaching is Transferable.

This past week, I started my placement in an 8th grade humanities class. Initially I was a bit nervous about jumping from 1st grade to middle school. In my eyes, this was a shift from little children to young (hormonally insane) adults. My focus has been greatly limited to primary grades—how will this translate to a middle school classroom community and curriculum?

To my surprise, the 8th graders were not nearly as intimidating as I had anticipated. Despite the fact that they are generally more (outwardly) independent than the 1st graders I am used to, they still felt like (young) kids. What surprised me even more was the overlap between the teaching strategies used by the 8th grade teacher and those I witness in the 1st grade classroom. For example, the Turn-and-Talk method seems to cater to the elementary classroom. However, when the 8th graders were told to turn-and-talk with their neighbors, they all jumped at the opportunity to express their thoughts/ideas. When I was in junior high, I remember being able to go through entire class periods without saying anything—this is not an option in the middle school classroom I am placed in. Everyone is accountable for participating, and this daily participation is key to literacy development. And, of course, facilitating this participation relies on the cultivation of a safe classroom community (which has clearly been established within this space).

Now I am really starting to understand more of the logic and applications of some of the pedagogical methods we have explored/examined. As I see the applicability of some of these strategies in contexts I would not have imagined them to be so useful, I am curious to witness what other methods are transferable between these contexts. What else from 1st grade can we bring into the 8th grade classroom? What elements of the 8th grade classroom might be useful in a 1st grade context?

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2 thoughts on “Teaching is Transferable.

  1. I think we should treat everyone with the kindness and respect we pay 1st graders. They’re straddling that line between child and adult. So we should definitely give them the autonomy that adults deserve too, but realize they’re young at heart still as well.

    Are you going to be doing your read aloud for the 8th graders? I just did one for 6th graders and it was so interesting the way the conversation went from just a picture book!

  2. I think consistency is key going from grade to grade. It allows students to carry over the teaching techniques year after year. The more students are able to practice turn and talks, small group discussion, large group discussion, Socratic seminar, etc. the more comfortable they will be with all types of instruction. We’ve practiced all these types of techniques in the classes we’ve taken in our program and I feel that they are just as effective with 1st graders as they are for college students. I think a major obstacle in education is the variety of experiences all students go through depending on what teacher they have. Even more so when they transfer schools. A certain amount of predictability is important for effective instruction.

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