Sunday, March 18, 2012


When reading the Before Play section of Serious Players in a Primary Classroom, I was in awe of how two teachers managed to create a productive and fun learning environment for 45 students. Not only did they have to make the space manageable, they had to take into consideration the different needs of children that ranged in age from five to eight. Although my "Breathing Out" part of the day sounds similar to this classroom's, I have half of the amount of students. Thus, simple logistical questions came to mind like: how do 45 students even fit together on the carpet? How do you allow every student to choose their center and length of time they stay in that center and keep all of the students satisfied? One important note addressed in the book was the teacher's response to student disagreements during play. Although I strive to do as they said and allow the students to solve the problem themselves with little interjection, I often find myself jumping in too soon due to time constraints or frustrations when certain students will result to the back and forth barking of "It's your fault! No it's your fault!". We have modeled problem solving skills and have a designated talk-it-out table to foster independent problem solving (which has definitely helped!), but unfortunately I still feel as though I do not always approach the situation without frustration or bias. I have two students who constantly create conflict during our center time and it is always due to the same reason (they knock someone's blocks down or intentionally take a toy away from someone). It is very difficult to remain non-judgemental or refrain from invoking guilt on these students, for it seems as though every time I turn around, I am having another student complaining of their actions. I would love to watch a video of the classroom of 45 students and see how two teachers successfully interact and question students at play while also maintaining a peaceful center time.


  1. I totally agree!! After reading almost the whole chapter I had to turn back and make sure that I read "45 students" correctly! I feel as if my 23 students are cramped for space and because of that, the volume is loud and chaos is always on the brink of ensuing. I feel that as a result of this class and reading these books one thing that has definitely improved is my tolerance for "chaos" and making sure that I always take a step back or pause before interrupting or getting involved in a conflict.

  2. I know - can you imagine 45 students?! I think the one thing that is clear is that a strong community HAD to be established from day one. Keeping in mind the students are in this class for 3 years (K,1,2) they know what is expected and help keep things moving along in a kind and caring way. I feel as if we have to spend so much time on creating that community and how to talk to each other. If they don't get this early on, we have to keep going back to that. Please continue sharing how your station time looks, and sounds.

  3. I was struck with the same thought! I have a friend who teaches in a mixed age classroom, and although he doesn't have so many students, he says that having older students that know the classroom expectations is a huge help for the younger ones. I'm sure they help to teach community norms as much as the teacher.