Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Little Peek into Departmentalizing

I know a few of you asked for more information on departmentalizing.  I'm here to fill you in! ;)  I hope I can answer all of your questions, but if not, send me an email and I'll do my best to answer everything. :)

First of all, when our principal approached us about doing this our initial response was, "NO! This is not the best thing for children."  But.... we are a team. And as a TEAM we always problem solve, persevere, and figure things out.  My friend Em, is SUPER good at scheduling, so she started there. We also had to decide who would teach what.  Our teammate Karen is an amazing reading teacher... check.  We were being gifted a teacher from another school and she would teach math... check.  I was blessed with teaching writing, which was a secret passion of mine. :)

Fast forward to today and we're all head-over-heels in love with what we do.  We've been working the last four years to perfect our craft in each subject area. We have 60 first graders that we see during the day, switching classes three times (actually 5 if you include specials and our school wide intervention block).  Each class is about 90 minutes. Here's what one class looks like:
Spelling (10 minutes), Phonics (20 min.), Mentor Text (5ish minutes), Minilesson (10ish minutes), Writer's Workshop (the rest of the time)

I do a LOT of one-on-one conferencing and this year I've been trying to do more peer conferencing as well. Some days it works!  I only know because when I was having a conference with one of my firsties and one part she added I had commented on.  She said, "When Karen and I were talking, she suggested I should add that part."  My teacher heart melted. :)

There is also another little secret.  We are leveled too.  Now I know what you're thinking.  WHAT?!?!?!?!  But yes, we are.  I'm not saying everyone loves it.  I don't mind it at all because my writing class is naturally differentiated even if I have a "high" "middle" and "low" class.  I do love that I can push my higher kids.  

There you have it friends!  

From my Brown eyes to yours....


  1. I wish the elementary schools in our district would do this. I think it would be so much easier for teachers if they didn't have to try to teach and be expert in all subjects. And I think little ones would love the chance to have more than one teacher. As a middle school teacher I got to teach 1 subject. I got very, very good at it.

  2. Lisa, it was so hard for us at first, but four years later.... I would NEVER go back! I love being able to focus and become the expert in my subject area.

  3. Yes, yes, yes! I'm a reading teacher (biased) and I recognize that our kids need to use their strengths, so why can't elementary teachers? We need to ask for more forgiveness and less permission. (Ooooh - slice idea!)

  4. I have been thinking about this very thing...Thank you for writing about it! Helpful!