Cross posted from the fantastic Cooperative Catalyst
I do my best teaching while I dream. Far away from my own cowardice that tells me to stick within the lines, follow the lesson plan, and to not deviate off the trodden path. I do my best teaching right before sleep comes and envelopes me, right before the stress of the day falls away, leaving only time to think of what can be done. That is when I think of how I will reach all of my students. This is where the labels are cast aside and only ability and tenacity shine the brightest. This is when I fully believe that they can all achieve everything.
In college, I was taught not to dream. Dreams were for people without teaching degrees, people that might make a warm and fuzzy teacher, a softie, but certainly not someone who made their students achieve. Instead I was told to plan, plan, and plan some more. Read the standards, correlate them, and throw in some spice for those students with minor special needs that may pop up in your classroom. English language learners? No problemo; just throw in some pre-teaching of the vocabulary and off they will go. I was ready to teach them all that school was fun and useful. And then reality struck and I looked at the list of my not so minor disabled students, my english language learners that did not just need vocabulary, and even that one child that was just so angry at the world. And so I planned some more.
After a year or two with glazed eyes and long, drawn out speeches about how important it all was, I dreamed a little. I dreamt of a classroom that students wanted to come to. A room where learning was loud, excited and maybe not always practical. And so when I was dozing every night, I would think that maybe I could try one little thing, maybe that would not hurt my plans so much if instead of planning every minute of the lesson, I asked the students what they wanted to do instead. Maybe they could dream along with me?
So I have become a dreamer, one who believes that children have a valid voice in their own education. One that believes that parents should be involved in the school, one that believes we must drop the labels and see our children for what they are; dreamers just like us. They do not dream of a school that talks at them, but one where there is engaging conversation. They do not dream of being drones chained to desks being stuffed with information, but rather really learning through experimentation, thinking, and yes even dreaming. So let them dream, or even more importantly, let yourself dream. For it is in these dream that we realize just how powerful our classroom can be. It is in these dreams that we shape the future and the future shapes us. We are a world of dreamers, if only we choose to be.