I taught fifth grade in Shreveport, Louisiana, before having my first child. I worked at Claiborne Magnet where fifth grade was the highest grade offered. My classroom was on the top floor and right next to my buddy teacher. The school was small and my buddy teacher and I were the only fifth grade teachers on campus. Our classes were consolidated, or contained in one classroom instead of swapping classes for certain subjects. This meant that I was responsible for teaching all subjects other than specials such as art, P.E., music and etc.
I promoted hands on, cooperative learning and arranged my students’ desks in groups of four where they were facing each other. Testing was difficult and you had to watch those eyes, but otherwise, this was the perfect learning environment! The students were encouraged to work as a team and feed off each others strong points as well as learn from one another. Teamwork is important and should be promoted at a young age. Face it, a person’s career can be in danger if they can’t work well on a team. Who wants to work with someone who only looks out for themselves and forgets that there isn’t an “I” in team?
My groups loved working together during science class. We worked on everything from making fudge to observing owl pellets. The kids loved it when I pulled out the lab equipment and pipettes. My students learned so much and had fun doing it. It’s been 12 years now since I have been in the classroom and still have contact with a few of my students. I love hearing about their life experiences and can’t tell you how good a feeling it is knowing that I played a small role in preparing them for their future!