Saturday, November 20, 2010

With a Purpose in Mind

My 4th grade classroom resembles nothing from my own childhood. In fact, it only slightly resembles the classroom that I began my teaching career in. During my 10 years in education, furniture has come and gone, materials have worn out, and my own work area has shrunk. My perspective has transformed from teacher-centered to kid-centered. Every change, every move has had a purpose in mind. Throughout the day, I am literally in awe of how natural learning develops in this new, kid-centered environment. My students and I soak in new knowledge in every lesson in our relaxed classroom workshop format.

I look at every decision that I've made in every change, and I'm confident in each one. However, my confidence weakens whenever parents try to create the same classroom environment from their own childhood. I spend a lot of my time trying to share with parents the reasons for approaching instruction in this way. I strongly feel that parents need more clarification regarding the educational decisions that I make when instructing their children. These clarifications need to be specific and backed with research, so parents can see how valuable they are.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ending a Journey

"As I stand next to the luggage conveyor belt, my stomach performs acrobatic movements. One moment I feel nervous as butterflies skid from one side of my stomach to the other. The next moment, I feel nauseous like my entire belly could explode at any moment. The huge conveyor brings my suitcase around to me. As I reach for it, I realize my hands are shaking as if I've just seen a ghost. I haul the massive suitcase onto my cart. Then, I realize I'm ready. I, finally, have all my luggage. I've already been through the United States customs, and I suddenly feel as though I could fly through the airport terminal. Like Mario Andretti I pass other travelers with swift ease, all the while my heart and stomach feel lighter-freer. I turn the corner into the waiting area. Thousands of people-at least it feels like thousands-stare back at me. My eyes lift into action, jetting left and right looking into every face searching for those familiar eyes. The eyes of my parents and sisters-those eyes that I've missed for the past five months. As if by magic, my eyes land on the face that I have found safety in for the past 19 years. As I meet my father's gaze, I smile and a fountain of tears drip down my face. After 11 hours in constant motion to arrive here, my feet can't move any more. I'm frozen in front of those thousands of people-until my family, pressing through the crowd, grabs me and holds me tight-I'm home! After five months abroad, I'm finally home!"

I wrote this in my 6 minutes to start my writer's workshop with my 4th graders. I was fueled by this memory. I could not stop writing. As I wrote, I was there in the airport. I was waiting to see my family. This memory will forever be etched in my mind.