That was the question, followed by, “Are they students who want to take over the classroom?” “No,” I replied, “it’s about how students approach learning—motivated, confident, and ready to tackle the task.”
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Lauren Hill - It’s about time
image via flickr:CC | Karen Roe
So, what does it mean to have a magical classroom?
The word magical can be defined as delightful in such a way as to seem removed from everyday life. Why can’t we cultivate learning experiences that seem so extraordinary that they capture the student’s interest and motivate them to be self-seekers to the answers we would have taught in daily lectures? If we take a closer look at our curriculum, wouldn’t it be possible to sit back and ask the “bigger questions?” What is it that we are trying to convey with this standard or objective? How does it relate to the student?
Asking how a standard or objective relates to a student brings up a bigger question: How well do we know our students?
Students in McClain’s class at Pierre Moran Middle School use a colorful comic book featuring the “Solution Squad” to learn math concepts. McClain developed the book and self-published it last year, guessing correctly that the story line and superhero characters would grab kids’ attention.
Take a walk through your building or workplace and attend to the feelings you have. No, not an actual walk — a symbolic one. By so doing, you will learn a lot about the culture and climate of your school and some areas where action may be needed.
Cornerstone Theater Company and The California Endowment collaborated with the community of Long Beach to talk about what’s really going on in Long Beach schools. They created a theater piece based on those real stories. Long Beach community members, alongside professional actors, performed the play at the Long Beach Art Center. It’s a real story about trauma and childhood PTSD, school discipline and suspensions, resiliency and restorative justice from the kids who live it everyday.
I would like to be able say of my teaching: this is clearly good; this is clearly not good. I would like to be able to think: I always do things right. I would like to be certain.
I would like to watch exemplary teachers and think: I do that! That’s me! I know exactly what I’m doing! Look how great this class is—mine is just as engaging.
Certainty is comfortable, after all—a soft cushion to sink into and relax.
But I don’t think those things. Instead observation magnifies my self-doubt, self-questioning, constant anxiety. Is this right? Is this good enough?