classroom expectations, future, hopes

Will School Rob My Daughter of Her Voice?

There she is, my daughter, not caring one bit who hears her or whether they approve of her actions.  She saw a piano, saw an opportunity and knew she had to sing.  I sit there, slightly mortified at first and then slowly relishing this moment.  She doesn’t care, she is performing, doing what she loves, making up songs that take their truth from the pictures.  She is just being her…

I worry what will happen to this part of her personality as she grows up.  will she continue to do what feels right at that very moment?  Will she have opportunities to create when she has that urge?  To sing and play and do what makes her her?

Will school allow her to stay herself or will the rules of the classroom tell her to be quiet, to sit down, to do what is prescribed and follow the program.  Will her only chance of individuality be choosing what color pen to write in or the picture on her binder?  Will she be lucky enough to have teachers that will continue to offer her opportunities to explore herself, to continue to build her confidence while teaching her the rules of society?

I do not expect for her to be given a free pass to perform like the kids in Fame, but I hope someone recognizes that this little girl is not afraid to share.  Not afraid to express herself.  Not afraid to raise her voice, and that they will celebrate it rather than roll their eyes and tell her to sit down and listen.  I hope school doesn’t take my little girl out of her.  I hope school becomes a place for growth and not for reigning in and quieting down.  I hope she gets an opportunity to create and express herself in some way.

being a teacher, future, technology

Do High-tech Gadgets Improve Learning – What a Dumb Question

I love Time For Kids; this magazine invokes deep discussion in my classroom, it lets the kid explore career opportunities and it delivers news to us every week.  This week’s blaring headline was “Technology Takeover…Schools Nationwide Are Using Technology to Teach Lessons.  But Do High-Tech Gadgets Improve Learning?”  At which I immediately scribbled on a post-it – what a dumb question!

Dumb because the gadget has nothing to do with the learning.  Dumb because any new thing introduced to a classroom could be considered a “gadget” which makes it sound not quite serious, not quite ready to be used by students properly.  Dumb because it has nothing to do with the access to a new tool but rather how you use it.  In fact, you could change this headline to truly show its idiocy thus “Do Paper and Pencils Improve Learning?”  Well no, not really, but how you use them do!  We have all witnessed classrooms where paper and pencils do nothing to enhance the out-dated instruction being lectured.  Many of us have rebelled against the stale classroom by bringing in technology tools to connect our students with the world, to give them the tools they need to succeed, while still using paper and pencils.  So no high-tech gadgets do not improve learning but how you use them can.

Yet this question keeps popping up in media and school conversations.  Can tech gadgets really improve learning or is it all a rueful ploy orchestrated by Apple and its minions to get us to spend more money on it?  Should we be getting rid of textbooks in favor of iPads, will students ever use paper and pencils again, what will becomes of this generation?  Magazines discuss these topics as if technology means a farewell to everything else we hold dear, to everything else we know and trust.  But it doesn’t.  Technology adds (if used properly!), technology deepens, and it can enhance.  That can lead to improved learning but only if the facilitator uses it right.  Like with anything else we bring into a classroom, we determine whether it is worth it, or whether it should be forgotten.  We must embrace the future but that the tools of it will be the magic pill.  A poor instructor remains a poor instructor with or without the technology.

being a teacher, being me, future, student driven, Student-centered

Why I Make My Life Harder

Sometimes I wonder why I make my life so hard?  Why do I let the students explore rather than just dictate what they are supposed to learn?  Why do I fight for them not to be graded at every turn when just writing that percentage or that letter would free up so much of my time?

Why do I insist that we work things out rather than just punish them without a conversation?  Why do I force myself to get the learning done in school rather than sending it home as homework?

Why do I fight for the creative spirit of these kids?  Why do I challenge myself to change and grow when really I know that I am a decent teacher, isn’t that enough?  Do they really deserve the best of me so that my family only gets the rest of me?

I make my life hard because our future is at stake.  We are modeling the future of the world and I want it to be a beautiful one.  I want it to be one where children believe in themselves as learners, where their creativity shines, and they are unafraid to fail.  I want the world to be one in which I do not fear sending my own child to school, afraid that our system will kill her curiosity.  I do this for my daughter and for all of the other children.