During my visit to classrooms this morning, I took a few pictures. I was thinking over my tour and how to communicate with teachers the things that I saw, and I thought a blog post for the world (well, maybe a few people in the US and Canada) to see would be most appropriate. When you look at these pictures, what do you see?
Looking at this first picture, do you see a dedicated teacher innovating to figure out how to support student learning in engaging and deep ways that are aligned with the skills they will need in our world today? Do you see goofy glasses that he wears to not only look cool but also to indicate to students that he is working with a student and should not be interrupted? Behind the photographer (me), students practicing math skills on iPads and paper at tables on wheels, sitting on stools. They support each other and are busy working while the teacher gives this student one-on-one time. Looking further, you would see a special education teacher “pushing in” so her students are learning the same grade level content with the instruction they need.
Here you might think you see a seasoned teacher assessing a student while her students are working hard on high-level processing of a non-fiction book they are reading. You are close to being right, and you may not believe this, but the teacher is a first-year teacher! She has done a remarkable job developing relationships and setting high expectations so learning time is maximized.
Doesn’t this look a great place to work? The high top table and the couch lend themselves to comfortable places for students to learn. It empowers them with choice in the world of school where students often do not have the opportunity to make many choices for themselves. It is fun to be able to have different options–a comfy couch for settling in and reading or a high top table to work in pairs.
This photo showcases attentive students. What you do not see is their teacher, who incorporates humor and stories into lessons so that nearly all hands shoot into the air when she asks a question. They are not just listening and complying, they are WITH her cognitively, and they are thinking through the concepts and relating to them emotionally. This results in learning that lasts so much longer than testing time.
Finally, here you see a teacher with a small group of students. The teacher is able to see and hear the thinking of each of the students in the small group and then customize their learning to be exactly what they need next. This is happening while the rest of the class is busy practicing skills they were previously taught. What a great use of time for all the students.
These teachers are focused on what their students need, and figuring out ways to make it happen. When you looked at the photos, did you see what I saw? Building relationships, providing choice, really getting to know your learners, and being innovative are keys to providing our students with what they need to develop skills for their futures. Excellent work Quincy Elementary teachers!
Follow these teachers on Twitter: @MrsL3rdGraders @PeteGoers @MrsC3rdGraders @MissWells113 @LindsayJipping