So I thought about making one of those wholesome, happy teacher posts about my 1st grade literacy centers. I’m sure you are familiar with the kind. It would include breathtaking photos of my center set up and materials. You would see 16 bins that are perfectly aligned and spaced on a matching shelf.
You would be completely taken by the impeccable condition of my center materials. You would wonder about the operators handling these materials. “Do they have the hands of angels? Everything looks so beautifully untouched!”
You would hear me subtly gloat about seeing each of my guided reading groups at least 4 times a week. You would wonder about the magic involved to achieve this incredible feat. I would let you know that it isn’t magic….my transitioning skills are just flawless.
I’ll be honest. I was starting to write this kind of blog post, but then I experienced an epiphany. I thought to myself,
“Why bother? I HATE CENTERS!” Yeah, I said it. I hate centers with an undying, unyielding passion.
I know that I am probably in the 1% here, but I’m just trying to keep it real….because phony=bologna
What is my biggest beef with centers? It could be the feeling I get when I am sitting at my guided reading table. I feel like I am locked up in a small zoo cage. I am confined to the 1 group I am working with, while the rest of the class is building an empire as they manage themselves.
…but kids just love centers, don’t they? You want to know why 6 year olds love centers so much? I’ll tell you why. If they aren’t reading with you in your zoo cage, they know that they can get away with the little stuff. Heck, they can go completely rogue in those independent and buddy centers if they want to. They know that you aren’t getting up to circulate the room. They know that you are limited to your guided reading group area. They know about the enclosed zoo cage.
So what are those little things in centers that make me want to go off the deep end?:
Let’s start with Timmy over there in Writing Journals Center. He is sitting next to Mikey and sharing details about his brand new Jordan sneakers. It’s okay though. He must have forgotten that he is in a SILENT, INDEPENDENT CENTER.
What about the ladies over at the long tables? Ohh, that’s Jane and Annie. They have mastered the art of “looking busy” in Word Work center. The reality? They are discussing details about their upcoming slumber party.
How about Mary over in Handwriting Center? She is having a ball with my $12 Expo markers, wasting precious ink as she doodles beautiful flowers on my expensive sheet protectors.
..and who can forget about Bobby over there in the corner? He is thoroughly enjoying himself in Computer Center. It looks like he just started another round of Demolition Derby 5.2. It’s okay. He innocently thought that it was recess time. Right.
Now, I know you’re probably thinking one of a few different things:
You: “Maybe she doesn’t realize that it will become easier each year to manage centers and materials”
My Response: It could, but the odds of me being switched to another grade level next year are pretty high. So why bother building up a crazy amount of resources when you are unsure of the fate in your current grade level position?
You: “Maybe she needs to work on her management skills.”
My Response: I’m pretty organized with my materials. I believe I can run a class smoothly. Check yaself.
You: “Well..Maybe she should start the Daily 5/CAFÉ system.”
My Response: So you’re telling me that I won’t understand the CAFÉ book unless I read the Daily 5 first? Well, let’s just stop right there. I couldn’t get past page 5 of the CAFÉ book. Blame it on my ADD. (Give me some visuals and/or cliff notes and I’ll consider it next year.)
You: “Well, what would you do instead?”
My Response: I’m not sure yet. I find myself comparing my current 1st grade class with the 1st grade class I was a student in 20 years ago. Back then, it was simple. There were 2 reading groups instead of 17. The teacher, a nun, read with one group while the other group did seatwork. She easily observed the entire class and had full control of everything going on.
So, that’s it. I’m afraid to say it, but I think that I favor the old school approach over centers.
Now, I must excuse myself so that I can find a way to wean 6 year olds off of center fever.
(If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy some of my other rants. Just click on the “Rants and Funnies” tab at the top of this page.)