In my last post, I mentioned that our district has embarked upon several new curricular paths this year. Those changes include a new math curriculum. I’m co-teaching math in a third grade classroom, and my biggest challenge is pacing. The minutes march by at an alarming speed while I struggle to teach all the pieces of a coherent lesson. Feel familiar? The first thing I needed to do was step back, reflect, and breathe . . .
This curriculum isn’t just new for students, it’s also new to us as teachers. And no matter how much time I spend reviewing the lesson and prepping materials, there is no substitute for experience. As the weeks roll along, I’m becoming more comfortable with lesson components, vocabulary, and tasks. This familiarity is beginning to express itself in smoother lesson delivery. This, in turn, is beginning to help improve pacing.
Another tool my co-teacher and I are using to improve our pacing is a timer. We set a timer for each lesson component. After several weeks of use, the timer still usually goes off before we’ve finished with the lesson segment, but it’s helped us reflect upon which parts of the lesson are proving most problematic. Our pacing is improving, and are now more aware of where we’re getting hung up, and how to make adjustments when time is running out. I’m beginning to mark the problems & discussion points that are essential, and those to include if time is on our side. The timer hasn’t proven itself to be a distraction for students, either. In fact, they’ve seemed quite interested in the fact that teachers have to work to learn & improve, too.
Learning with and from my fellow teachers has been an invaluable resource. There has been much math talk & collegial support in our school hallways, the lunch room, and at the copier. We’ve shared challenges, successes and helpful tips. Everyone benefits when we share in this way. It lifts the level of our teaching, and, therefore, the level of learning for our students.
My lesson pacing still isn’t where I’d like it to be. But it’s better than it was a few weeks ago. My teaching partner & I are making incremental progress toward consistently delivering smooth, effective, well-paced lessons to our students. By continuing to engage in reflective teaching practices, we will reach our goal.