I left school yesterday with a smile. It had been a busy day – when is it not – and yet the energy in almost all of my classes was infectious. The sun was shining, it was Friday, and while the kids certainly were ready to learn, they were also ready to use their energy and channel most of into class. As I taught my classes how to infer deeper, I laughed along with them, asked them to hush when needed, to focus back in, but otherwise loved the conversations that seemed to happen. They were not all on topic, but they were together, and they were learning and they left English with a smile.
A great colleague of mine asked me yesterday what my ideal classroom would be like and I couldn’t help but think that after a day like yesterday; that was my ideal. For kids to be engaged with whatever we were doing, to be talking, to be sharing, to be laughing. While they certainly had their moments where I had to wait for them to focus back in, while some kids still chose to remain quiet, while some kids probably still didn’t get as much out of it as I could hope for, most of them did. And that’s it for me; when most of my students are engaged, when most of my students are discussing, working, and being a part of whatever it is we are doing; then I am in my ideal classroom, and it turns out, I already have that.
Of course I will continue to shoot for all. For every child to share, for every child to participate, for every child to be on task and engaged in work, but right now, after yesterday, I realized that what we have works. At least for me. At least for almost all of the kids.
Too often I beat myself up when not every child is engaged. When not every child likes what we are doing. Too often I feel like I am not a great teacher because I focus in on that child that is not doing what they should be doing, rather than focusing in on all of the ones that are. It is exhausting to think like this and doesn’t make my teaching better; I simply can’t be a great teacher when I only focus on what doesn’t work. I can’t be a happy person when I only see all of the things that are still not in place.
So as prepare for Monday’s work, I will make a reminder to myself as well; my ideal classroom is one of smiles, of happy, of engagement, whether it is reading quietly or being loud. My ideal classroom is one where students feel safe, feel accepted, feel like they can let loose a little and still be welcomed in. Not one of silent and compliant, not one of focusing only on me. And I have that already, now it is up to me to remember. So what is your ideal classroom? Are you already teaching in it?
If you like what you read here, consider reading any of my books; the newest called Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration, a how-to guide for those who would like infuse global collaboration into their curriculum, was just released. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. I am currently working on a new literacy book, called Passionate Readers and it will be published in the summer of 2017 by Routledge. I also have a new book coming out December, 2017 . Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.