Happy New Year!!!
What an interesting time of year this is. The Christmas break offers so much opportunity in the way of reflection, thinking, and development.
I think back on the Fall semester and wonder where it went so quickly. It’s as if one day I stood with my Student Council kids staring up wonder of the eclipse, and the next day I sent them off for the holiday break. I must have told them how much I loved them thousands of times. So much happened this fall and I have so much to think about.
Somehow the stack of books I’m currently reading grew massive this fall. I’m determined to finish so many that are half read. The Last Castle, A History of Wolves, Ready Player One, Lincoln in the Bardo, The Glass Castle are staring at me like unloved puppies.
Reading is important to my teaching life but my thinking is about my classroom as a learning space. Specifically, I reflect on how I’ve arranged it in the past and how I think that arrangement is antiquated and isn’t optimal for how I want to teach.
An article written by Paul Viccica and Lois Goodell and published in the October 2017 issue of University Business clearly states, “Classrooms that activate experiential and project-based learning approaches reflect the modern workplace by providing social and quiet work spaces, by offering breakout seating, and by creating technical stations where students can collaborate, focus independently and work technically, as they would in an office setting.” This sounds to me like its promoting authenticity in the classroom; something of a mantra for me this year.
I wonder if there is evidence that shows any positive effects of the teacher cordoning off a section of the classroom to create a fortress of solitude into which no student shall venture.
I hate what my teacher desk has become. I hate that it, like so many others, is a great wall covered in papers, writing utensils, binders, books, note pads, a computer screen, and all the flotsam and jetsam that builds up in a teacher’s daily existence. I hate that I sometimes find myself sitting behind my desk when the kids are furiously writing or deep in a text. I despise the disconnect that happens when I steal a minute to answer an email or take the attendance.
Why is the siren song of that momentary mental break so alluring? How many times has a student looked up to find me sitting at my desk and swallowed their question because I looked too busy to be bothered? I’m confident the answers to the questions are “not often.” I hardly step behind my desk during classes and that just solidifies my need to make a big change to start this new year.
I’ve written before about the constant conferring that needs to happen in our independent reading and we all know those habits are crucial in teaching writing as well. There shouldn’t be an opportunity for me to disconnect from the students. Reading, writing, discussing; those are all activities that I should be completely engaged in, even if my role is just as the listener. So, I ask myself, when are they doing something that I can disconnect from? The answer should be: NEVER!
I made the decision to shove my teacher desk against the wall; abandon it. Like an anchor, its holding me back and I want it out of my way. I don’t need it anymore, nor do I want it. It’s a symbol of a bygone era. It’s one of those things I cling to for my comfort at the expense of students.
This is my big move to start 2018. I hope it makes my instruction more effective. I need a change and so do the kids.
I think it’s important for teachers to encourage other teachers to innovate and throw away the practices or procedures that no longer reflect their teaching styles. Is anyone else making a big change in their teaching life?
New Year, New Classroom!!!
Charles Moore has succumbed to the creativity of his Student Council students and their aesthetic is now his. He can’t stop thinking about how to maximize his classroom space with design and decoration. He recently lost to his 7-year-old daughter at Clue and catches up on reading in the parking lots of dimly lit soccer fields around League City, TX waiting for his son to finish practice. His almost daily musing can be found on his twitter page @ctcoach