I need to start by mentioning that my entire classroom teaching experience was at the high school level. When I left the classroom, I became a technology integration specialist in the same district in which I had taught for 22 years; I was a known commodity! At first I was working primarily with the high school and junior high, but now I work with all levels EC-12.
Ok…let me get to the point! I have worked really hard to gain an understanding of what it is like to teach at the lower grade levels. I follow just as many elementary teachers as upper level teachers on Twitter, read more books about that age level, and spend just as much time in elementary classrooms as high school and junior high. There is no question that to have a true understanding of the elementary classroom one needs to have taught at that level, but I am trying to understand. Side note…one thing that I have learned is that I think I would have been a good 4th/5th grade teacher…I love those kids! I think/hope that I am gaining the respect of teachers from all grade levels and they see me as someone who is willing to help them plan and implement innovative ideas into their classroom. When teachers and/or principals have a “beef” with me, I tend to hear concerns about whether what I am suggesting or pushing for is “age appropriate.” Self reflection is one of my strengths so this concern does keep me up at night! Obviously I understand the term (I have two grown children), but when does that concept get in the way of innovation? That keeps me up at night more than the fact that someone might disagree with me! If we think that it is age appropriate for young children to read a “real” book because they have to feel the pages, does that not negate some of the innovation that might come from introducing e-books? If we say that children must handwrite on paper because it is age appropriate, does that not limit what a teacher is willing to introduce into his or her classroom? I could provide other examples, but I truly think about this idea a lot! If we always say something isn’t age appropriate will things ever change? Am I the only one who struggles with this idea? Seriously, how do you balance the two?? I would love to hear your thoughts!