Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mind the Gap, Please.

If you travel to England, then you must have heard the expression "Mind The Gap".
It is an audible or visual warning phrase issued to rail passengers in the UK (and elsewhere) to take caution while crossing the spatial gap between the train door and the station platform. Passengers are alerted to become more aware of their surroundings to avoid accidents.

Do you "mind the gap" ?
As #reflectiveteachers, we should be careful in our teaching to "mind the gap", to see the spaces and breaks in the curriculum and our students' overall experience in the classroom. Identifying these "gaps" helps avoid mishaps and possible accidents in teaching and learning as well!  Nothing good about a derailed course curriculum! Or how about students who are "off-track" in their studies or relationships with other members of the class? Sounds like a train wreck to me!  To close that gap, we need to work quickly and effective to carefully design curriculum studies, lessons or team-building activities with our colleagues to close those spaces as quickly as possible to maximize students' learning experience within our schools. 

I recently had my "a-ha" moment as AP Spanish were talking about the theme of Identity and Assimilation. How does one assimilate into a new culture? What do they experience? Do they maintain their original culture, embrace the new culture or find a healthy balance between the two? And then the perfect cross curricular lesson revealed itself- Who better to talk about assimilation than our new ELL students?! I knew it would be a big win all around: AP students hear authentic language being spoken and real stories centered on the theme, and ELL students would be sharing their personal experiences to very interested students and making connections to some really great kids in the school. I set my students on their way to create their own questions for the students while I set up the meeting times. Another win: students creating and leading the learning! I need to get out of way more.

The days were very successful as you can see! Smiles, conversation in Spanish, students connecting and sharing stories, questions and perspectives on assimilating into cultures! They are looking for more opportunities to connect so I will put on my thinking cap!

So here's to "minding the gap", to being aware of spaces in our curriculum and to being able to find ways to fill all students' needs throughout the year! Here's to helping students find ways to connect and fill that gap among themselves! 

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