A colleague of mine likes to ask the question: "What do you want your classroom to be like?" It would be easy for most teachers to answer this question rather reflexively. At the same time, challenge yourself to let it simmer before responding. Reflect. Dig deep. Don't focus on what it currently looks and feels like. Don't focus on what it isn't. Don't get stuck thinking about what is getting in the way. Focus on what you dream it could be like. Create a vision for your classroom. What do you want your classroom to be like?
My rough draft looked like this:
I want my classroom to be more
- risk taking and mistake making and less playing it safe
- collaboration and connectivity and less isolation
- questions and less answers
- student autonomy and less teacher directed
- growth mindset and less fixed mindset
- passion and interest driven and less standardized
- personalized and less whole group
- authentic and like the real world and less like school
- fun and less boring
- creating and less consuming
- thinking critically and less recall
- about effort, persistence and grit and less giving up
- transparent and less behind closed door
- feedback and less grading
- caring for one another and less selfishness
- evidence than opinion
I'm sure I could add to this list and while all of these are important and integral as my personal philosophies as a teacher, I also believe that they could all be summed up in one statement:
I want my classroom to be a place where each and every student has an opportunity to learn and grow in whatever ways they need.
Disclaimer: For those who know me well, you might be surprised that I did not include a statement about a classroom rich with technology. Consciously, I left that off my list because the classroom I envision cannot be effectively or efficiently created or sustained without technology embedded and integrated into everything we do. We are 13 years into the 21st Century and we keep referencing 21st century skills and technology as illusive and disconnected goals in learning (ie. How do I have time to teach all this other stuff?) Technology in education is not about a laptop or tablet or SMART board or clicker. It is not about a web tool or skype or social media . It is about matching the right learning tool with the right child at the right time to guarantee that that child has learned. Settling for anything else is just an excuse.