I will apply what I learned from my data to my teaching by planning and implementing learning centers on a regular basis. Before I started my data collection, I loathed learning centers. Every time I had learning centers I would be anxious and frustrated. I didn’t know how to plan them or why my students were always interrupting me when I was trying to work with individual students. I wanted to desperately buy into the myth that learning centers are outdated and need to be discontinued. Many people believe that they take away from direct instruction time. I have a friend who is a firm believer in learning centers and she would ask me every week how my centers were and what my students were doing for activities. Almost every week I would tell her that we didn’t have time for centers because we have half-day kindergarten and I only get two hours of instructional time in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. That was my excuse.
I learned that I could successfully have learning centers and love it. I was very anxious in the beginning, but my data started to show that I was not being interrupting as often as I felt. My anxiety made it feel like it was more often. I also learned the importance of planning my learning center activities around my curriculum. On the days that my students were highly engaged, I did not have as many interruptions. Further, I was able to pinpoint what the interruptions were and who was doing the interrupting. There were some surprises in this data because my most frequent interrupter was not a student with frequent behavioral issues, but it is clear that she needs more practice working independently.
I will take what I have learned and apply it to my classroom by having learning centers more often. They are great for reinforcing skills and concepts that we are working on in all subject areas. I also will remember to set specific rules for learning center time, to help my students become and remain independent. One thing that I found helpful was having them rely on their partner for help. It built friendship bonds and allowed my students to be helpful, which they love. For my students that are struggle with independence, I can help them one-on-one by focusing on one thing that they need to work on and improve. For example, I will remind my student who interrupts the most that she does not need to ask if she needs to use the bathroom since we have one in our room. I will also have my students fill out self-assessments more often because they really helped with behavior. I have a few students who have asked if they could do self-assessments after math, which surprised me.
Others can apply what I learned by doing periodic observations and address the issues they have in their classroom. They can also see that it is not difficult to align learning centers to the Alaska State Standards. Another thing they could do is use self-assessments, it is clear that kindergarten students were able to fill them out correctly and they are very easy to make.