Parents, if you are thankful for any of your children’s teachers, please take the time to send them a note of appreciation! The morale boost is immeasurable, especially during the school year. We must counter the negativity with the great positive events that are happening inside every classroom around the globe! Here is a simple act from both teacher and parent that will mean the world to this child, and teach every other child in the classroom to have be understanding of others!!
The Art teacher is always a staple of excitement and creativity in schools. I have had the privilege of teaming up with several great ones. It is one of the unwritten rules of Elementary School teaching- get to know and appreciate the Art teacher! Your students and classroom will be a center of engaging activities if you collaborate with them!! See the article below for some hilarious observations!
The Myth of the Quiet Class
The Tale of Two Classrooms
As you look into Classroom A, you notice the teacher up front teaching the lesson of the day. The students are seated quietly with their feet flat on the floor, and hands positioned on their desks. As a question arises, a select amount of students raise their hand, get called on, and answer the question.
As you enter Classroom B, you notice the teacher is walking up and down the aisles, periodically stopping at the board to write something down. The students are far from quiet, but respectful. Some students are standing in the back, and you notice that some students are sitting on giant balls and some are on a couch. When a question is asked, students are sharing answers with each other, and even answering aloud to the teacher.
Classroom A is the perfect classroom as presented on TV and in the movies. This is the way a class presents itself when the principal or other visitor is expected to appear when coming in for a visit. Is this how the public envisions the perfect classroom? If so, let me list why Classroom B is my preferred classroom, and a quiet classroom is far from the perfect classroom:
- A Quiet Classroom is NOT an engaging classroom: Students are in school to learn which requires them to be inquisitive. In a room where a teacher demands that students be quiet and respectful at all times, there is no room for students to grow. There is a time and a place for students to be respectful and give their teacher their undivided attention, but we all know there are classrooms where this is expected for every minute they are in the class. I don’t call this the perfect classroom, but rather the quiet torture room- where students are assigned to a year’s worth of torture. “Do not speak unless, spoken to.” “Raise your hand if you wish to speak.” “I will not recognize you until you raise your hand.” At what point are students expected to take charge of their education? A student here is not engaged, they are simply in a quiet room.
- A Quiet Classroom is lead not by a teacher, but by a dictator. Literally and figuratively, the dictator will have full control of the class. He or she will be in charge and will dictate what each student will learn. They will not be questioned in what they teach, for questioning an idea or thought would be questioning their authority. The dictator here is simply nothing more than a live newscaster delivering the events while the students simply have no choice but to listen and accept the words being spoken.
- Lastly, A Quiet Classroom provides no feedback. I had a fellow colleague once ask me “Why do you allow your students to talk and answer out loud?” (followed by a negative comment about my teaching style). I answered, “Simple: My students are not afraid to be wrong. By answering aloud, they understand that they are letting me hear their thoughts as I teach. This in turn allows me to understand why they are getting things right and, more importantly, wrong. At times, listening to them has influenced me to rethink my predetermined thoughts. How are YOU able to determine if all of your students are learning if they are not?” I am not sure if she understood the question as she walked away, but truly, how could she? What does a teacher learn about class mastery by always calling on the student with the hand raised?
What do you hear happening in a Quiet Classroom? I remember the sounds that echo in the hallways of a school whether the classroom door was closed or not. Without stepping foot inside the classroom, you can tell if the students are engaged with a great teacher. It is clear in the sounds that come from the room, the talking, the laughing, the questions, the questioning, and the answers. To a true teacher, it is the sound of perfection: Students engaged in learning through conversation with other students and their teacher!
As you walk through a school, truly listen to the classrooms as you pass by……..What do you hear?
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Mr. Lowe, we have a question for you! Every year, as a fourth and fifth grade teacher, the same question would inevitably come up in a class discussion. There truly was no way to avoid it as circumstances always led us down the same road. In the weeks after Thanksgiving, there were too many projects and problems that needed to mention all of the holidays- especially Christmas. Inevitably, it would come up amongst friends, or in a small discussion amongst a group hanging out at recess- Is Santa Real?
With this one question came great responsibility- the hopes, dreams, and innocence of not just my students, but also their parents, who were able to keep the innocence their child up to this point. I also had to keep my reputation as a teacher with whom every student could trust. With that being said, here is what I would always tell my students:
Is Santa Real? My answer to that is a simple YES! I know there are some of you that will disagree, but let me explain. Almost each and every one of you want to discuss this question as if Santa is classified as 1 person, but what if he is not? I honestly believe in Santa, because there are many things that happen that have no other explanation other than there IS a Santa Claus.
Let’s first look at the history of Christmas- As a holiday, it is one of a few that is celebrated around the world! It is not like the Fourth of July, or Thanksgiving, where it is only celebrated in the United States. It is celebrated like New Year’s Eve, which means that it is something that places all over the world relate to. There is something special about Christmas that has touched people on every Continent. This was not done through television, radio, or the internet. Somehow every continent has been touched enough to celebrate Santa.
Next, can any of you tell me another time during the year where everyone seems to be more giving? People are willing to give to the poor, donate toys to the less fortunate, and even sacrifice for others at the cost for themselves. When else do you see so many people go out of their way to be cheerful and helpful? Notice people holding doors more of others? Notice folks saying Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, etc…? Why? There is no requirement for any of us to be kinder, or even to donate. So why does this happen at this time of year? Especially when they say that the winter season is a time where many people are depressed and the cold season brings about negative feelings?
Lastly, while everyone is concerned about the presents that will appear under your tree, let us think about presents that will be under trees around the world. There are presents that appear under trees that are unexplained. Even under your own tree, you have or will experience presents from which no one has any idea where they came from. Around the world, there will definitely be presents that will appear under trees from which the family members to not know where they came. Yes, it will be because of those who donated toys and gifts, but remember, without the willingness to give in the first place, these presents would not be there.
So- Why do I believe in Santa? Because I do believe that there was a person who was able to spread the love of giving and compassion. This person was so influential that his spirit continued to live on and spread throughout the world. Today, there are people who continue to spread this love and we are all the recipients of it every year at this time. I hope each and every one of you will continue to spread the same type of love as you grow up- but don’t just do so during the Holiday Season, but throughout the year! So Is there a Santa? Yes, but I don’t believe he is a person today, but even better, a Spirit that lives in all of us!
Throughout my years of teaching, I never received a complaint from any parents, and received a lot of love from my students about this view. I am a true believer and hope that every kid can have the magical dream of Santa for as long as they live!
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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Such a simple question to be followed up with a conversation with a child that could last for hours if you wanted it to. My mother tells me that I wanted to be a garbage man (maybe because she used to always tease me that Grouch from Sesame Street was my true father), an astronaut, an inventor, and a race car driver, but most of all, I wanted to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Personally, I remember having the dreams to be many different things, and the encouragement to become all of them……That is until around 8th Grade.
It is clear to me that from 8th grade on, the thoughts and dreams about my future was systematically redirected by the adults around me. My dream world that allowed me to believe I could achieve anything had slowly transformed into a reality…
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