Friday, February 27, 2015

7:35 a.m.

Hit the ground running. 7:35 a.m. And here they come! Greet with a high five, a hug, or a handshake. Child’s choice. This is their space. This is their education. My job is to create a challenging learning environment where students feel safe enough to ask questions, make mistakes and have their victories celebrated corporately. At any given time in my classroom, students may be found in corners with laptops, typing thoughts about their guided readers for others in the room to view and comment on. Some students will be engrossed in a self-selected book, while others will be gathered around me, reviewing and revising their work. Students choose their own cubby, choose their own seat, choose their own reading groups, and goals. The classroom is a working microcosm, fueled by ten and eleven year olds who are figuring out how the world works and how to be an integral, successful part of it. Students must have choice. They must know that their education, and direction of their lives are up to them at every possible turn. As they are given the reigns, children can, and must, take ownership of their impact on others and themselves. Learners are invited to take charge of the designed lessons and ask peers guiding questions. Those listening respond respectfully to one another in turn, only realizing the teacher as secondary support. But she’s watching, stressing, tweaking the whole time. What concepts are they grasping? What are the misconceptions? What needs to happen next in the journey? We are always searching. The classroom experience should look seamless but has blood, sweat and tears in its preparation. There are new technologies, revised state standards, classroom management, and email. Lots of email. But amid the chaos, there are little faces wanting to be loved, respected, and authentically engaged. How do teachers do it? And why? Connectivity to colleagues at school, and across the country sharpens us and keeps us going. We rely on each other, much like our students do with their peers. We energize one another, begging, stealing and borrowing great ideas. Love of children and learning propels us. The job of teaching stretches and stresses us, as the career of education draws us in and compels us to push harder. A framed print in my classroom says, “There are lives I can imagine without children but none of them have the same laughter & noise.” I teach so that such laughter and noise will always be a part of me. And at 7:35 a.m. next week, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to do it all over again.