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Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Stand Alone Classroom Community

A substitute teacher lamented about being in my classroom recently.

When I heard the comments, I was sad.

I have a vibrant group. I give them lots of say with regard to the daily teaching and learning.

The substitute was ready for a traditional classroom, a place where children were seated in rows and raised their hands to answer questions. I think she expected worksheets and lots of rule following. My classroom wasn't the classroom she remembered or experienced in the past or even in the present in some places.

I thought a lot about this.

First, I want to continue to foster a classroom experience that values student voice and choice.

Next, I want a vibrant, active learning environment.

Yet, I also want to encourage a sense of community where if a substitute is there everyone is polite and caring--a classroom where everyone's voice is respected and there's time to listen as well as follow commonly held protocols of respect and care.

As I continue to move from traditional classroom structures, protocols, and events to a classroom that better matches the way children truly learn, I want to be cognizant of the community I am building.

I also want to think about ways that substitute teachers can be better prepared for today's learning and teaching. For example, another substitute teacher recently remarked quite differently about my class. She was impressed with their independence, voice, and creativity.

I remember years ago a couple of teachers in Brookline, Massachusetts wrote about their dedication to stand-alone classroom communities, communities that could run well without the teacher. That's a good aim in this regard, and a goal I'll think about as I work to develop the classroom teaching/learning community I lead.