For years Mary Tarashuk engaged her students in a rule-making exercise that felt democratic but produced her desired outcomes. Now her strategy is to help kids think more deeply about respect and have them use their insights to guide the classroom community.
Category: Kids on the Cusp
Mary Tarashuk is packing for her trip back to Room 106 and her new class of fourth graders. She shares her pre-flight checklist and her new student-centered theme for the year: “In Class 4-T We DO Learning.” Along the way she includes middle grades resources.
Like many teachers, when school ends, new work begins for Mary Tarashuk. “I earn a good salary, but it isn’t enough to pay for ‘summers off.'” There’s professional learning to do, too. But still some time to relax and reflect on the sheer joy of teaching children.
Mary Tarashuk looks beyond her formal annual review to consider her personal assessment portfolio. Her students have learned “a bit about compassion, sympathy, empathy, the importance of friendship and community. This is the true measure of my Affectiveness.”
It remains unclear to Mary Tarashuk how rampant standardized testing is actually helping her fourth graders become successful and enthusiastic learners. As she prepares for her own evaluation, Mary shares pushback from parents, students, and HBO’s John Oliver.
Students’ success in making connections – whether listening, writing, or linking ideas with bits of yarn – is essential to learning. Mary Tarashuk sees those connections in her 4th graders’ notebooks and in their eyes. But can PARCC prompts capture them?
As Mary Tarashuk anticipates the second round of PARCC testing this spring, she tackles stacks of paperwork and teacher evaluation forms. She’ll also make sure her 4th graders celebrate Earth Day, revisit engaging writing prompts, and enjoy some fresh air.
We can teach students the value of speaking out on critical issues while meeting curriculum standards, says Mary Tarashuk, who shares her 6-day unit inspired by the 1992 speech of 12-year old environmentalist Severn Suzuki before global leaders.
Most teachers Mary Tarashuk knows are salmon, with a deeply embedded instinct that urges them to keep swimming upstream against mighty currents (including CC standardized testing) to find their way back to real teaching that makes real sense for real kids.
Looking for a “standardized writing prompt” that will really engage her students, Mary Tarashuk hits upon favorite essayist Andy Rooney and his reflection on a favorite teacher, then fashions a multi-day practice assessment to get her 4th graders thinking and writing.