A while ago, I created this poster “A Tale of Two Classrooms.” It wasn’t meant as a statement of “Classroom B is best.” It wasn’t even meant as a statement of “Classroom A is awful.” It was meant as a representation of Classroom A and B. I know Classroom A and B quite well. Both of them are mine. The teacher I was trained to be in college? It was Classroom A. I wanted all of my kids to be the same, so my assignments would work for them all. I piled on work, did all the talking, and was the sole enforcer of rules. I was in charge of learning. Years passed, and my teaching evolved. I began to focus on building inquiry, problem solving, embedding technology, and getting kids thinking and collaborating. It changed me. I became more like Classroom B.
I look back on what I used to do and it was what worked for me at the time. But overtime, I changed. I had to deal with pressures from colleagues who thought I should be using my textbooks more, from parents who wondered why more “graded papers” weren’t coming home. I’ve had to defend that an authentic project is more rigorous than a packet of papers. Have I got it right? Of course not. We’re never finished changing. Learning is a journey. Our kids change. The world changes. We change as teachers. This morning, I made a revised version of Classroom A versus Classroom B. As someone pointed out, it’s not a black and white issue. There is so much grey and so much individual choice. I’m not saying A or B is better for everyone. I’m saying you’ve gotta think and really understand what you want learning to look like in your classroom. Then, you’ve gotta work to carry that out. Every. Single. Day. Even when it’s exhausting. Even when it goes against the “norm” of what’s always been done. We should all aim for Classroom C, the one that works for our situation, our kids, and our schools. Make a list of what you want learning to look like. A mission statement. A scribbled Post-it note. Define YOUR classroom. The one where learning is optimal and kids are inspired. That one? It’s the best.