“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” Will Durant
I love the classroom where I teach some amazing students. Each year I spend hours dreaming about setting up a special environment for them. When children arrive, I want them to feel that they have walked into an enchanted world for learning. Teaching and learning both require growth. Every year, I learn along with my students and hopefully I grow as well. Here are a few key things we learn together:
Managing behavior: I like a classroom where children manage themselves well. Students that are highly involved in the learning process score well on tests and have more fun learning. Tests don’t show everything, but it’s interesting that there does seem to be a correlation. When students manage themselves, we focus on the “real stuff.” That’s what I love. How does it happen? We teach procedures, and students learn them and carry them out. That’s why I call my students amazing.
Motivating learning: My classroom is not typical. We have fake trees, green benches, a couch, umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, carpets, puppets, dress-up clothes, and lots of pillows. I spend a lot of time in my classroom so I want a place where I feel relaxed and where I like to learn. If my students and I feel that we can walk in, find a book, and settle down for a nice long read, we’re all happy. Face it, loving to read and write takes care of half the battle.
Developing unity: Every year we spend lots of time and energy talking about how to work together well. This is the “music” in our classroom. In class, we are required to work with others, even when we want to do it all ourselves. Some students have a difficult time with it. Leading groups or being led is not their thing. Students will not be able to get through our class easily if they believe that every man is an island. Basically, we are stuck on our island, and we’re not getting off soon. It’s best to learn to make some close friends and to learn from one another.
Before I became a teacher, I never even imagined that all three of these aspects of teaching were even a part of a teacher’s reflection process. From the outside, we might believe that teaching is all about content. As I continue to learn from my amazing students how to be a better teacher, I can see that there really are two educations!
What insights will you share about teaching?
“There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.” John Adams