Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Here's an Idea - Fund Every Teacher To Design The Perfect Classroom of Their Dreams

Yesterday, I led almost six hours of professional development for teachers, librarians and aides working in West Haven K-8 schools. As usual, I found the teachers motivated, interested, and curious about next steps they can take to improve practice and find new tools to meet the demands being placed on them by all levels. They want better PD, and they desire more flexibility and creativity to do what works for American youth, but they feel their arms are tied, their mouths are taped, their ankles are cuffed, and they're expected to finish marathons in record time.

At one of the schools, however, a teacher shared with me a contest she one where interior decorators from the Discovery Channel awarded her with a classroom makeover to meet her literacy needs and teaching style. The result was a refurbished room with lots of color, spaces for books and art supplies, a staged area, and Willy-Wonka like paraphernalia to capture the attention of her students.
I thought to myself, "What if our nation invested in all teachers in such ways? What if teachers were given ample supplies, opportunities to create an environment that works for kids, and an organizational structure that makes sense for the diverse learners in our room?"

It's great that larger organizations take interest in classrooms from time to time, but I argue every teacher deserves the ticker tape parade and red carpet treatment for establishing an environment that supports their curricular needs.

This room was awe-inspiring and wonderful to see, but I left sort of wondering why we choose such a small percentage of educators to award with such attention. Why not budget ways so that more and more schools are transformed from sterile, forgotten wastelands into spaces young people want to attend?

I know this would be expensive, but aren't investments into our school a way to secure better and better chances for our youth? You'd think so, but sadly this is a galaxy far, far, far away for a vast majority who have chosen the teaching profession.

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