This week, the most meaningful topic to me was about the role of a teacher. We discussed encouraging learning and reflection without authoritarian direction. To me, this is the most important part about being a teacher. Keeping kids in a tight box of rules and regulations only stifles their growth as individuals and creative young minds. John Amos Comenius claimed that classrooms should “engender as much pleasure as fairs” (Scheuerman). If my classrooms had been as exciting to me as going to the fair was, it’s a pretty safe bet that I would never have wanted to leave for the evening. We discussed different ways to make a classroom exciting, like building a reading loft or having a “listening corner” and a giant terrarium. I think my favorite idea was to build a reading loft, but how do I know if it is safe? Part of having an exciting classroom is also making sure the excitement isn’t risking the safety of the children. To find out what kinds of structures are safe and within the rules, I would discuss my ideas with someone who understands how to build lofts as well as someone who knows the policy for such things.
But a loft isn’t the only idea I liked. While I was walking through Pike Place Market, one of the sellers had created small teepees, which I immediately thought would be an excellent addition to a classroom. Not only is it a fun and cozy place to go read, or sit if you need a quiet moment, but it’s also a topic of conversation about culture. Having the visual and the “experience” can really bring out ideas in children, and can really drive home certain concepts.
For more ideas, I think a preschool classroom is actually a great way to get ideas about creating a fun and interactive classroom. While I was teaching preschool, I had created all these “learning centers” which had games and toys that were all geared toward learning about a specific topic. During the fall months, we made bread and butter during our science and math time, and we had leaves in our sensory bin. Having all these visuals was very important for students to make connections and ask questions. The concept is the same for elementary kids; the visuals are still there, but the questions might change. I think another great place to get ideas is from other teachers. There are so many resources online for teachers to share ideas, it doesn’t make any sense to try to do it all on your own. I also travel quite a bit (even if it’s just within the state), and I think visiting other teachers’ classrooms and asking what they do that is effective can really help you improve your own classroom. Teacher collaboration is a very important step in creating an environment that is the ideal situation for learning.
When I have my own classroom, I would like to learn what is allowed and what is not, especially with regards to student safety. But once I know that, I can work with the administration and colleagues to help build a fun and exciting classroom.
Scheuerman, R. Humanism [PDF document]. Retrieved from Mountain Light Blog: http://mountainlightschool.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/session-5-humanism1.pdf