Others can apply what I learned to their classrooms by tracking their own learning centers to find out where interruptions and off task behavior occurs. It is hard to know how to correct a problem if you don’t know exactly what the problem is or where it happens. I think that the most important thing for others to take from my research is that learning centers can be engaging, independent, and aligned to the Alaska State Curriculum Standards. Another thing that others can take from my research is that self-assessments work for students, even if they are in kindergarten. They can evaluate their own behavior and it helps them think about what they are doing. It makes them more accountable for their own actions.
What I need to consider next is how to help my students who are struggling with being on task. I do not want to harp on them and remind them several times because it does not create independent behavior. I know that some of my five and six year olds cannot stay on task. I have said that I believe that my student who has the most off task behavior has a running musical in her head. I have observed her many times and I have watched her hum and sway as she tries to work. I have discussed instructions with her and had her repeat them to me. I have had her trace lines that she is supposed to cut. But when I get the work back, she has done something random and completely different than what we discussed. She simply cannot stay focused and that is our reality. Her strength is in her creativity, it is like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I believe it comes from the musical that is constantly playing in her brain. I want to balance the independence and interrupting behavior without making her lose her spirit. I want to be able to do that for all my students.
What comes next for me is finding out if I am going to be laid off this year. Fairbanks has been hit very hard with budget cuts. I know that I want to stay in kindergarten for at least one more year. So, regardless of where I work, I will plan my learning centers and set clear expectations for my students. I will also integrate self-assessments into my teaching. I would like my students to fill them out on a regular basis. Next year, I will have learning centers every week. I no longer feel anxious or nervous with the noise level or loss of control. I will also use my recording sheet to track which learning centers are working and which needs to be tweaked. My recording sheets will help me see which students need additional support to become independent workers and I can work with them over the course of the year to help them improve.