There are days in this insane world when one is completely uplifted with the gift of life. This marvelous teacher will be a beacon of light across the years for her students. She will be remembered. ~ Ed.
It’s the second year in a row I’ve brought a white dress to school and my students have filled it with their artwork. This is one of my favorite things to do in my class! #thewearyteacher
This is something I’d seen on Pinterest a few years ago and I fell in love with the idea. I think every teacher should do this! It’s a great project and an even better keepsake.
“It was as if my long-term students and I were taking a long journey by ship and it was my fault that, in the parlance of the controversial education law, William was being left behind.”
Eugène Delacroix: Demosthenes Declaiming by the Seashore
A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born. ~ Antione de Saint-Exupery
Chapter 21 ~ Awakening
I couldn’t help smiling as I watched my new student, twelve-year-old William, running laps around the school field, one hand clutching his baggy pants to keep them from slipping inexorably toward his feet. This ten minute run was the energetic beginning of the two-hour class we called main lesson.
In spite of his trim, athletic physique, William ran in a lopsided and lackadaisical manner that, together with his ridiculously low-slung pants, had initially led me toward the admittedly judgmental conclusion that William’s sloppiness in appearance probably meant carelessness in his character. But, I reassessed my initial impression after talking with his mother who revealed surprising details about William’s morning ablutions and his painstaking selection of jeans and tee shirts. Continue reading
What if there were a better way to do early childhood education?
It’s a common complaint among teachers as well as parents in the U.S. these days: kindergarten has become the new first grade and the unintended casualty of that is preschool, which has consequently become the new kindergarten. Many early childhood experts consider physical activity and unstructured play the two main pillars for learning and a healthy development for preschoolers. Both are often lacking at American preschools, where play is typically directed by the adults and the students are more likely to be found cooped up indoors, filling out worksheets and tracing letters. Not to mention kindergarten, where students are expected to sit still at their desks for the majority of the day. Continue reading
My teaching bag of tricks is full of stories, lots of stories— biographies that are a window into history, stories to teach the alphabet, stories that break down the complexity of a math process and metaphoric stories such as parables and fables that spark thinking.
My students are used to stories that take them on a journey that appears to bring them far away from our main theme, into a tale that is not so much a segue as a secret route to the heart of the topic.
Stories can be especially effective when students are stuck, when a concept is difficult or complex, when the kids just don’t get it. At this moment in our culture we are collectively stuck when it comes to making decisions about the future of education. My perspective as a teacher is that most people just don’t get why standards and testing wastes the talent, inspiration and joy that our nations teachers are ready and able to bring to children while teaching them well. Continue reading
Some of these things could end up being a service to young people, if only someone would just tell them. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
To maintain order in the classroom — and to keep their jobs — there are some things teachers just can’t tell their students, even if they want to, but some of these things, while perhaps controversial, could end up being a service to young people, if only someone would just tell them. Continue reading
College Professor’s Epic Class Introduction Went Viral
Originally published in August of 2015 – but well worth the read. ~ J.B.
Author’s Note: The following column is comprised of excerpts taken from my first lectures on the first day of classes this semester at UNC-Wilmington. I reproduced these remarks with the hope that they would be useful to other professors teaching at public universities all across America. Feel free to use this material if you already have tenure. Continue reading
I followed his astounded gaze back to the high window ledge. The pod had burst wide open into a cumulous, pulsating mass. The slight breeze from the other window tickled the fluff, coaxing bits of down into the air. Suddenly the room was clouded with milkweed down.
Then something happened, something that would happen again and again over my six years with my class, something of gigantic importance, yet imperceptible…. It was a simple, silent shift in the manner of the class prompted by a decision on my part to step back and allow the children to lead the way. I made no pronouncement. My turning the reins over to the class was a silent passing of leadership. Continue reading
Reesa was lost in golden October. Shining maple trees bridged the concrete walk down the gentle hill. Brown-gold fallen leaves carpeted the hillside. Bright gold leaves floated toward this mottled carpet where, upon landing, they glittered like brilliant stars.
Alone in this golden splendor, Reesa seemed unaware that she should be with her classmates. Tall, slender, and light on her feet, she danced gleefully from falling leaf to falling leaf, catching a dazzling yellow bouquet of falling stars.
I was tempted to open the door and call out to Reesa. I knew I had only seconds before I must return to the classroom or risk disruption. But I didn’t call out. I wanted Reesa to learn to line up with the class. But I also wanted her to have this sacred moment. I made one of the one thousand judgment calls a teacher in a wonder-centered school makes each day. I just waited.
I recently picked up Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court for the first time. Finding the plot rather amusing, I began relaying it to my father over the weekend. Because he had never read the book, I was rather surprised when he began asking informed questions about the story. In no time at all, he was the one schooling me on plot elements I had not yet reached.
“Wait a minute,” I asked. “Are you sure you’ve never read this book?”
“No, never have,” he replied, “but I saw a cartoon version of the story when I was younger and everything I know comes from that.”
Here is a great lesson here that the students at Little Rock High School will never forget. I would presume also that most students would never have given this a thought.
In September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a History teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock , did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks in her classroom.
When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.
‘Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?’
She replied, ‘You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.’ Continue reading
You can’t put wonder in your lesson plan any more than you could plan for a sunny sky. But, while the weather is totally beyond our control, you can put out solar panels to catch the sun when it shines and teachers and parents can, similarly, prepare to catch wonder when it happens.
We can create habits in our classes so they know instinctively when we have pulled back to allow them to express their fascination. We can give unplanned time for student questions when they arise, can listen for the turn of conversation or the moment on a field trip where a child stops and looks with wide-eyed awe. Parents too can postpone bed time or mowing the lawn when they notice that one of those moments is arriving unexpectedly.
My book, A Gift of Wonder, A True Story About School As It Should Be is about those moments. You can pre-order your copy through by clicking HERE and choosing the secret perk at the top of the page. This is a special offer for readers of the Growing Children blog. Continue reading
“Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you can imagine it.” ~ George Lucas
Let’s dream about public schools of the future where children are motivated by wonder, curiosity and compassion rather than the wish to do well on tests. My book, A Gift of Wonder, A True Story Showing School As It Should Be, is both a true story about a school that works and a window into the future of education.
(Click here to order your copy of A Gift of Wonder)
Kim Allsup ~ June 14, 2017
A note from the publisher of Metropolis Café.
The short two paragraphs which you are about to read – I sincerely hope that you will make a commitment – for your children, your grandchildren and for the future direction of the Republic in which we live. What Kim Allsup presents – IS the ANSWER to the problems which we all share in this nation. As one who served our Nation in the military both in Europe and Viet Nam, and one who has continued to serve for nearly two decades on-the-air – I implore you to make a pledge and contribution to this amazingly worthwhile project. I will be doing so as well.
Thank you for your consideration in assisting Kim Allsup with this important project.
~ Jeffrey Bennett
It is said that when you write a commentary or column, you should write in such a manner that ALL can understand the point(s) you are endeavoring to make. Well…I am not a journalist, nor have I slept at a Holiday Inn recently so as to play one. I am certain that what follows will not be understood by any reader under the age of 58. For readers from 60 years and above, not only will you immediately grasp the following language, but you will also have come flooding back to memories the place and situation most likely you heard the following prose. Smiles will ensue, maybe some tears of sweet memory, maybe even some contemplation after all these years when such profound statements of life were first uttered, and probably not in a moment of intellectual insight, but rather a moment of life as you knew it at that moment being at a crossroads! Continue reading
Digging through the trash barrel, item by item by porch light, searching for the missing leg, I realized that a miserable, crying child can motivate a parent to do almost anything. A leg had had broken off my daughter Nora’s little figurine, a toy policeman carried from a foreign land by a big brother for the little sister who was now inconsolable because it had been dropped and broken and its leg could not be found. Anywhere.
Then, mid-trash barrel, a memory came to my mind. The now one-legged doll sparked a memory, an image of Joe, the husband of my childhood ballet teacher, with his crutches and his neatly rolled and pinned pants leg hanging loosely where his knee and lower leg had been before he had gone to war. Continue reading