Written by Ms. Berman
I am sitting on the floor of a dirty hallway, alongside my students who are lined up against the walls of the building, engaged in their studies. I allowed for differentiated learning today, and this group is reviewing while the other half of the class is taking a test. I notice Z. successfully tutoring her friends and make a mental note to later ask her to become a Science Scholar. I slide over to another group of students who don’t openly admit that they are lost, but I can tell that they need assistance. I think about the fact that I am sitting on the floor, which is odd for a woman my age, but if I try to kneel or stand, I will lose this teachable moment. And I am not willing to do that.
I reflect upon the events of the previous day. In preparation for the upcoming Chemistry exam, I had decided to schedule an after school tutorial. Immediately after school, when only a few students showed up for the study session, I wasn’t sure if it had been worth it. Thirty minutes into the review, a room filled with students, when N. said, “My brain just got rocked,” I knew that it was. As educators, we call these “aha” moments. A switch is flipped, and all of a sudden a concept makes sense. This is especially pertinent in a Chemistry course in which there is a processing period for most people to fully comprehend the material. Every time I conduct a successful tutorial, it is a poignant reminder of how important these small group connections are for true teaching to occur.
After an hour and a half of tutoring, I had to ask the students to leave my classroom so I could rush off to the Board of Education to take care of some HR paperwork. Upon my leaving the district building, I noticed several news cameras. “A lot of media at Board of Ed,” I texted Dr. Ankeney.
“Barnett’s budget plan discussed at tonight’s mtg,” he responded.
Oh, yes, of course. “Doom and gloom… think I will pass,” I sent back to him as I started my car. I couldn’t help but think about the contrast between the ominous news being discussed inside the walls of the Board of Education and the positive energy that I had just experienced within the walls of my own classroom.
So I guess that gives this blog post a theme… walls. As teachers in today’s society, we have to deal with walls every day. Breaking down walls in order to reach our students at large while building up walls to shield ourselves from the negative media. We must work at holding onto the positive energy produced within the walls of our own classroom and, at times, help our students create artificial walls that they can use to protect themselves during turbulent times. And sometimes we might find ourselves randomly sitting against walls, in an effort to connect with that one student who hasn’t spoken to us all school year.