Thursday, July 12, 2012

Teaching with the Brain in Mind

I just finished reading Teaching with the Brain in Mind, by Eric Jensen.  Great read!  I love learning about how our brains work and how to best help our students learn! 

 I found the time table guidelines for direct instruction very interesting. 

Grades K-2 (5-8 mins.)
Grades 3-5 (8-12 mins.)
Grades 6-8 (12-15 mins.)
Grades 9-12 (12-15 mins.)
Adults (15-18 mins.)  - Probably less for me (ha, ha!)

I've been a resource room teacher for the past 7 years.  The last few years we've been limited to specific direct instruction programs - the kids hate it (and honestly, so do I!)  These programs are research-based, but seem to completely contradict brain research.  Why are we asking our neediest students to sit still for 30 minutes blocks and listen to a teacher go through a scripted program?  No movement, no muscle memory, no music, no arts, little time to practice and certainly no variety in how to practice (paper and pencil only!) Ok, maybe a few short games here and there (but not very fun ones!)

I try to integrate variety where I can, but with budget cuts I have no assistants (to help with prep, etc. they are one-on-one with students in the classroom,) two schools, back-to-back groups, no prep time, and a new IEP program that doesn't work!  Very little time to spend on the most important part of my job - teaching!!!

Sometimes it feels like we are moving backward in time!  I feel like special education has been hit the hardest, but I'm interested to know... Do you feel like budget cuts and/or district mandated curriculum impact your ability to teach with best practice?  How do you work around these limitations?