reading and reflecting on the book Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller.
Chapter 1: Picture Perfect: How Does Your Ideal Classroom Look, Sound, and Feel?
I don't know a lot about this book. I have heard of it. I read the introduction. I know the general promise and premise of the book. But I jumped into reading it without much preconceived expectations.
This first chapter reminded me why I want to be in a classroom with boys and girls. I would like to hear and feel and see the joy of learning in kids.
The question that starts the chapter - How does the ideal classroom look, sound, feel? - brought instant images to my mind. And lots of thoughts about how my classroom in those two years did not always reflect that ideal.
Debbie Miller then describes a third grade classroom in which she observed - a wonderful inspiring classroom. As I read her description, several thoughts came to mind. The students were working independently. They were reading or discussing without the teacher standing over them. A strong sense of trust permeated the classroom; the teacher trusts that the kids will be working and focused without standing over them and admonishing them to stay on task (even when some boys veered into talking about soccer before getting back to their book). Everything in the room seemed purposeful and focused. The kids worked with ease, so I assume there has been practice to establish these ways of working.
But my overall feeling was calm. No rushing. No worry that things wouldn't get covered or done. I loved these words Debbie wrote: "No one is looking at the clock; there's not a hint of rush. There's simply the luscious feeling of endless time."
Her description made me want to be with a group of third graders...and that's no small task! I'm definitely an early elementary centric teacher.
So what's my ideal classroom? One that allows kids to explore and investigate. One that encourages kids to follow their own thinking. One that isn't dictated by the clock and the "lesson." One that respects and trusts kids and expects them to be kids and not mini-adults.
I've blogged before about my current thinking about the classroom environment. This chapter certainly helped me reflect on intention and balance and kids first. That still is my overall descriptor of the ideal classroom. But I think, based on reflection and reading this chapter, that I would add relaxed to the mix. No hectic push to get things done. I think I felt that a lot when I was in the classroom in the past and that may have been on reason I was always dissatisfied with my class.
I didn't start this book with a lot of particular expectations, but I certainly have some now. I want a classroom like the one described in this chapter. I want to know more. I can't wait to read the rest of the book.
What about you? What would be your ideal classroom?