School starts in one week for me and I am so excited. I have been teaching first grade for 20 years and each year is so very exciting and wonderful, I can hardly sleep at night in the anticipation. There are currently 26 students assigned to our room. It will be interesting to see what "new" accronym will be applied to our teaching. There has been some talk among administration that we should begin PBIS, RTI, and our district will be doing TPEP. Ahhh, why or why do we educators always look so hopefuly to some new inovative idea that will sovle all of our problems?? Have you ever had the luxury of strolling about a book store and paruse the shelves of books written by well meaning people that describe just how, if we would only use this method or intervention each child would learn, all your behavior/discipline problems would melt away and everything would be just fine? Whenever anyone decides what make a good teacher the conversation seems to never end, there is always one more dimension to consider. There are just too many layers, partly due to the fact that we have so many different types of learners that bring to the class a different culture for learing. There couldn't possibly be one solution, yet we continue to search. Some of our teachers went to a training for Read Naturally - well, what say we Teach Naturally. We have a set of clearly defined standards, many districts have taken the time to define what it looks like when a student has met the standard and we teachers are trained on how to teach the concepts and strategies so students can understand and apply the learning - Is it asking too much for policy makers and other legislation to stop complicating the issue of teaching and allow us to do our jobs? Knowing I will have 26, or possibly more, students that look to me for understanding in math, science, literacy, social studies, and social skills, I am aware that I will need to have many and various strategies to engage, challenge and teach them. Once we have met and I get a clear picture of what it is they currently know and can do, I will need to develop lessons that clearly outline the progression of learning that will allow the students to achieve the standards for first grade. They will need opportunity learn, time to practice, authentic, formative, summative assessments with feedback. In otherwords, they will need to know the learning target, and how to achieve the target.It is challenging, but so very worthwhile when they discover they know a new concept or have met a particularly difficult standard. One year I had a student that seemed to have all the pieces together(phonics, phonemic awareness, etc) that would allow him to begin to read, yet it just wasn't happening. After several different strageties and approaches, we found a book that was of a rebus style that he really liked and began to read the book - he was so excited that he took it home to show his family how he could now read. When he returned to school the next day, he read the entire book to me - then with a large smile he looked at me as said,"Isn't it cool how I taught myself how to read?" Yes, that is was very cool! Learning begins with the learner, the key is having the resources and time to know the student and help design a path of learning for that unique individual student, not trying to wrap some acronym that represents a "researched based" program around the student.