Seeing Beyond The Classroom Walls — Chiew Pang
one of the first things I did was to put feelers out to my PLN (Personal Learning Network).
I asked them, “What do you see each time you walk into your classroom?”
I’d like to share their comments with you.
Michael Griffin @michaelegriffin: I see an empty room that will soon be filled with humans and possibilities.
Jo McN @cunningcanis: I see community spirit.
Yitzha Sarwono @yitzha_sarwono: I see smiles and laughter painted on each wall.
Anne Hendler @AnneHendler: I see the potential to turn the room into anything we want today.
Christopher Wilson @MrChrisJWilson: I see a space that wants to be filled. Anything could fill it: my voice, their voice, handouts, pictures…
Abby Popowich @abbypopowich: … an opportunity to help somebody!
@JohnPfordresher: …vast but reluctant potential
Generally, they were all very positive comments except, perhaps, for John, who qualified “potential” with “reluctant”.
Now, what do you see? Do you see your students as a reluctant potential, too? What do you really see when you walk into your classroom? Do you have a preconceived idea before you walk in? Or do you try to empty your mind, or alternatively, fill it with unrealistic over-optimistic thoughts of how you want the classroom to be? Or, perhaps, you have nothing in your mind but the plan you had prepared and a determined effort to see it through. Or, maybe even, you have hardly anything prepared, and you walk in with nothing but your experience, and have the intention only to play it by ear.
Well, do you know what you see? I’m willing to bet that the majority of us see different things at different times; after all, we are humans and we are affected by many factors, often beyond our control. That is OK. What is important, however, is that we try to be positive. We try to see the goodness, rather than the opposite, in our students. They are humans, too. They, regardless of their age, have their stories to tell; they have their experiences to bring into the class; they have their ups and downs, just like you and me.
It is more usual than not that there is always one, or a few, “bad eggs” ready to cause turmoil, ready to push you to your limits. But, do you know them? I mean know them? Do you ever talk to them, find out what their story is, what their life is really like when they leave the classroom door?
Next time you walk into your classroom, before you say anything, make eye contact with each and every one of your students. Look at them. What do you see? Do you see a life behind those eyes? Reach out to them and let yourself be reached.
What is also, maybe even more, important is this: what do you see at the end of the class? Do you try to see yourself? Do you try to see you as the students did during whatever time it was that you were in the classroom? Do you ask yourself:
What did I like about this lesson?
What didn’t I?
What did the students learn, if anything?
What would I change if I were to have this lesson again?
Learn to see not only that is visible but that which is not. Don’t be like the people Ralph Waldo Emerson saw: “People only see what they are prepared to see.”
Prepare yourself to see beyond the classroom walls.
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